Connect to survive? The implications of the digital divide

Connect to survive? The implications of the digital divide

I’ve posted a presentation to Slideshare that I gave last month as a keynote presentation for an audience primarily made up of local government staff. The presentation illustrates the growing velocity and volume of on-line connections being created in the wake of Web 2.0 and the prevalent demographics of those considered to be ‘connected’ and those who are not. I was trying to raise the awareness of the audience that being part of the on-line digital community (and in particular social networking) was becoming an increasing factor in how we evolve and survive as human beings, and that those who fail to grasp this will find themselves ever more isolated – cut off from the networks that are sharing, adapting and updating knowledge to create value.

However, It is recognised that not everyone is digitally disconnected or socially disengaged by choice, but interestingly, it’s not necessarily the socio-economically deprived that make up the majority of this group; age demographics play a big part, with Baby Boomers and Generation X (i.e. all those born between 1942 and 1965) being the least likely to engage in social networking. These demographic groups make up the majority of staff working in local authorities and this presents a challenge to local government employers in how to accomodate significantly varied working parctices and work-life expections between these groups and Generation Y (or the Net Generation).

The presentation concludes with a look at the issues around consultation with citizens and questions whether enough is being done to engage with the digitally excluded, particulary where vast sums of government (i.e. tax payer’s) money is being invested in on-line services and on-line consultation.  In other words, digital exclusion can also mean dis-empowerment and dis-engagement.  Is the technology (Web 2.0, Web 3.0) widening the divide?

As always, comments/views are welcome.

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