Friday, March 7, 2014

What are the Consequences of Being Disconnected in a Broadband-Connected World? By John B. Horrigan

John B. Horrigan, "What are the consequences of being disconnected in a broadband-connected world?" Daedalus 140:4 (2011), pp. 17-31.

The title of this article, What are the consequences of being disconnected in a broadband-connected world, definitely reveals the main topic of the article all on its own. The author discusses that digital abundance will lead to the “risk of falling outside the social, cultural, and economic mainstream”(pp.29). Therefore, promoting access and managing abundance is necessity to improve broadband adoption. In order to support his viewpoint, Horrigan cites survey data from Pew Research Center’s Internet& American Life Project, Federal Communications Commission, National Broadband Plan, National Telecommunications & Information Administration and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Even, he illustrates the cost of digital exclusion through people’s daily information requirements, such as job searching, getting daily news and so on.

According to progressive layers of the article, the following viewpoints stand out one by one from the author. The data-driven discussion at the beginning of the essay points out that online access get huge improvement in the past decade, which illuminates the cost of digital exclusion from a different angle. Given daily examples, Horrigan claims that the cost of digital exclusion is twofold: “for individuals, those without access to broadband either miss out on information or must use more costly means to accomplish certain tasks; for society, institution have to support the costs of legacy means of delivering services to meet the needs of a minority of people who do not have access to broadband.” (pp.23) Based on several broadband adoption surveys, the author suggests that cost, lack of skills, social environment and non-adopters’ perceptions about broadband are main factors in regard to the barriers to broadband use. Finally, Horrigan emphasizes that stakeholders should turn ideas about digital literacy and promoting relevance into policy and practice.

John B. Horrigan is Vice President of Policy and Research at TechNet, where he leads research on technology, innovation, and telecommunications policy. Previously, he was part of an FCC team that developed the National Broadband Plan (NBP), designing and conducting the FCC's first national survey on broadband adoption and usage. The survey findings were highlighted in the NBP's first working paper, Broadband Adoption and Use in America. He also served as Associate Director of Research for the Pew Internet & American Life Project.[1] Therefore, that is why he cites a lot of data from FCC, NBP and Pew’s broadband adoption survey in this article.

Daedalus was founded in 1955 as the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and draws on the enormous intellectual capacity of the American Academy, whose Fellows are among the nation's most prominent thinkers in the arts, sciences, and humanities.[2] Audience to Daedalus is consist of Academy members as well as research institutes, libraries, and other individuals. In order to make easy access to the audience, both print and electronic subscriptions are available from MIT Press. Moreover, recent issues are also available on Kindle.

[1] Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Web. Mar 7, 2014.
[2] American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Web. Mar 7, 2014.

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