Closing the Digital Divide: Transforming Regional Economies and Communities with Information Technology

Closing the Digital Divide: Transforming Regional Economies and Communities with Information Technology

Closing the Digital Divide: Transforming Regional Economies and Communities with Information Technology

Closing the Digital Divide: Transforming Regional Economies and Communities with Information Technology

Synopsis

Successful strategies and principles for using information technology to transform regional and community economies exist, and they are presented here with clarity and insight in a way that is useful to both practitioners and researchers. Although the communities discussed here range far and wide, from those in Russia to Australia and to Kenya, any community can benefit from enhanced utilization of information and communications technology.

Excerpt

A technological revolution is transforming society in a profound way. If harnessed and directed properly, information and communication technologies (ICT) have the potential to improve all aspects of our social, economic and cultural life. ICTs can serve as an engine for development in the 21st century, yet the majority of the world's population has yet to benefit from the new technology (Annan 2002)

Regional economies and communities are facing increasing economic, social, and cultural hardship in many parts of the world as economies adjust to the demands of the new orders of commerce and governance. A part of this is the paradox that regional economies and communities can be either enhanced or disadvantaged by information technology (IT) products and services. The potential enhancement comes from the increased social and cultural capital which comes from harnessing IT products and services in a community sense. The disadvantage comes from the power that IT products and services have in centralizing commerce, service provision, and governance away from the regional community.

This book is about using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to transform regional economies and communities. It seeks to link economic and social development efforts at the regional level with emerging opportunities in such areas as electronic commerce, community and civic networks and telecenters, electronic democracy and online participation, self-help and virtual health communities, advocacy, cultural enhancement, and others. It is becoming evident that for a variety of reasons, including cost, infrastructure, literacy, and attitudes, a “digital divide” is developing between those who are in a position to take advantage of technology-enabled opportunities and those who are not. The major objective of the book is to discuss the role of information technology in regional transformation and how we can enable regional communities to close the digital divide.

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