It's hard not to think big about all the ways digital content can be used; there's more than enough news to fill many, many blogs like this one. Yet two recent examples reminded me of the digital divide that still needs to be bridged for many (in America alone, even). One example was personal—my mother, a seasoned high school teacher, told me about a young new supervisor she has who is changing things up so much, she exclaimed, that "now I have to learn how to send attachments via email!" A second was the recent announcement by Random House of their $1 million contribution (over five years) to First Book, a non-profit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 50 million books in over 1300 communities around the country.
According to the Pew Internet project report released in early July 2007, 71% of Americans have access to the Internet, 47% of those with broadband access. That includes access at home, work, school or other places. The two examples above reminded me that as evolutions in electronic content turn over more and more quickly, those without the access, financial means or savvy to take advantage of those innovations are left farther and farther behind. It's a worthy point and a call to action for those of us who couldn't imagine a life without incessant reading. If you are doing good works in this area, as many are, please let us know.
In ways overt and subtle, literacy used to delineate the haves from the have nots, or maybe the "could-haves" from the "could-never-haves." Will digital literacy create the same delineation?