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On YouTube-Debate Night, America split by a digital divide

It’s time for the first of the CNN-YouTube Presidential Debates. It will be broadcast on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/citizentube July 23, 2007. But sadly missing so far in the race that is so dependent on the Internet is any mention of the digital divide.

As this article says, there are “two Americas online: one that’s connected to high-speed Internet — socializing, paying bills, uploading debate questions to presidential candidates on YouTube — and one that’s not. This is the digital divide, now more than a decade old, a rarely discussed schism in which the unconnected are second-class citizens. In some parts of this so-called Internet ghetto, the screech of a telephone modem dialing up to get online is not uncommon. And with dial-up, YouTube is impossible to use.”

Excerpts:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Less than a mile and a half from the Citadel, the site of the Democratic presidential debate tonight, sits Cooper River Courts, a public housing project. Forget the Web. Never mind YouTube, the debate’s co-sponsor. Here, owning a computer and getting on the Internet (through DSL or cable or Wi-Fi) is a luxury.

…”At one level, the YouTube debate shows that the Web has really become a centerpiece of American political culture,” adds Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet. “At another level, it also shows that the debate is not for everybody. It’s certainly not available to all Americans.”

That is especially true at Cooper River Courts, where Tiara Reid, 14, in her jeans shorts and pink striped top, runs up and down the complex asking friends if anyone wants to go the library. Finally her mom, Jossie, who works at a deli, drives her and a neighbor’s daughter. With school out and without Internet access at home, the library is the only place where she can go on the Web — for a maximum of two hours a day.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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