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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
The digital divide: a global and national call to action
R. Cullen (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), The Electronic Library, 2003, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 247-57
The phrase "digital divide" has been applied to the gap that exists in most countries between those with ready access to the tools of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and those without such access or skills. This may be because of socio-economic or geographical factors, educational, attitudinal and generational factors, or because of physical disabilities. The paper reviews recent research concerning the digital divide in New Zealand, and the factors that alienate people from enjoying the benefits of information technology and participation in the knowledge economy. While socio-economic factors affect use of ICTs by urban Maori and Pacific Island communities, and rural communities are affected by inadequate telecommunications infrastructure, rural Maori are even more disadvantaged. The paper examines strategies used in the USA and the UK at national and regional levels to address similar issues, including the use of libraries to reduce the digital divide, and compares these with New Zealand initiatives, to identify positive means of increasing participation in the knowledge economy.
Keyword(s): Equal opportunities, Information technology, Communications technology, Disadvantaged groups, New Zealand