This is a tremendous issue in the blogospere as it happens to be very male and very white. While Milwaukee Journal Sentinel panelist Eugene Kane pointed out that he is one of the few black men blogging in Milwaukee, he was also quick to quote some statistics he recently read suggesting that the digital divide is closing and more people then ever have access to the Internet. What the panel failed to address is that the issue is more than access depending on race or gender – it is blatantly socioeconomic.
According to the most recent PEW/Internet report, ‘Thirty-two percent of American adults, or about 65 million people, do not go online, and it is not always by choice.’ Sixty-five million people! One-third of our population! That number is nothing to sniff at when one is talking about democratic participation. Sure, a grant can fill any U.S. school with computers that have internet access, completely skewing those numbers, but that isn’t the same as children and even adults having ready access to the community dialogue of the Internet. There is a big difference between a student with a desktop at home and one that may only have internet access in school for one hour a week as part of a class.
Jesse cites intelligent and thoughtful blog discussion about the crime and economic problems on the South Side of Madison.
However, the individuals you never read taking part in those discussions are those that live on that side of town. A mother with two jobs and two kids isn’t going to have time to waste online blogging or in forums……Typically the jobs that are available to our poorest citizens aren’t the ones that allow you to goof off for half an hour surfing the net and writing in your blog about how much you struggle. And if you are a low income American and are lucky enough to somehow acquire a computer, what comes first – the Internet or food bills?
I’m not sure that we as lawyers have a overnight answer to the problem. However we need to be cognoscente of the problem and as leaders make sure we do what we can as well as let others know of the issue.