Of these three, which is the largest obstacle to the free and open flow of online information?
Consider the following:
- A 12-year old boy in Western Africa has learned how to read Braille. He has also recently received an inexpensive laptop as part of a corporate initiative to save the world with cheap computers. Unfortunately, he is unable to access the information on his own because he was born blind and the computer did not come with any software that can read the content of web pages.
- In rural Idaho a high school student has an inexplicable desire to “make websites”. There are no technology classes at her school, but a teacher allows her to use a school computer during the last part of lunch to practice her craft. She has found a couple of online communities that the school filter allows where she is able to find answers to many of her questions. After school she has a 50 minute bus ride to a small home at the bottom of a hill bordering a National Forest in Central Idaho. Her family does have an older computer, but they haven’t been able to find local Internet service provider.
- A young woman in Albania constantly hears her friends talk about people that they have met online. She found a job at a local byrek stand where she earns enough money to accompany her friends to a local Internet Cafe to participate in their online activities. However, her father recently lost his job because of illness and her family expects her to contribute all of her earnings to the family pot. She occasionally gets a few minutes to check her email by tagging along with her friends, but by and large she no longer able to use the Internet.
Each of the above problems might be overcome with some combination of technology, awareness or money. However, each situation does present a problem of accessibility, availability or affordability that might be generalized to include a larger number of people.
Which of these is the most significant obstacle to ubiquitous, affordable technology to allow everyone to connect to this vast collection of tubes that we call the Internet?
What other obstacles keep people from accessing the Internet?