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Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide
Unformatted Document Text:  Ethnographic Interviews 11 Interviewer: So who would be responsible for closing the digital divide? Chris: The individuals. I don’t feel that it is important for the divide to be closed and I think that if schools have it, it’s going to naturally close. I think that if you bring kids up on using computers then as these kids grow older it’s going to naturally close. But I don’t think there should be a program where, you know, the government goes out and gives everybody a computer. In this statement, education enters as a secondary theme that is related to computers and also to technological determinism: schools should have computers, and as a consequence of this introduction of technology at a young age, the digital divide will “naturally” close, as Chandler stated. Donald Mueller, Chris Chandler, and others we interviewed who shared their views were all relatively experienced computer users, even if they hailed from differing economic backgrounds. Yet like Donald and Chris, Tina Wilson, an Anglo single parent with little direct experience in computers, was similarly unconvinced of programs that purported to close the digital divide. As a low-paid day care provider, 28-year-old Tina had limited access to computers through her work and lacked the means to purchase a computer for her use with her 6-year-old daughter in their two-bedroom apartment. She was looking forward to the day when she and her live-in boyfriend Ron, 26, would receive his parents’ computer after they upgraded. As a person whose income was close the poverty line yet was thoroughly committed to her child’s education and related opportunities, one might assume that Tina Wilson would be an ideal candidate for programs that seek to close the digital divide by providing computers in the home for those who cannot afford them (for statistics on

Authors: Clark, Lynn., Demont-Heinrich, Christof. and Webber, Scott.
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Ethnographic Interviews 11
Interviewer: So who would be responsible for closing the digital divide?
Chris: The individuals. I don’t feel that it is important for the divide to be closed
and I think that if schools have it, it’s going to naturally close. I think that if you
bring kids up on using computers then as these kids grow older it’s going to
naturally close. But I don’t think there should be a program where, you know, the
government goes out and gives everybody a computer.
In this statement, education enters as a secondary theme that is related to computers and
also to technological determinism: schools should have computers, and as a consequence
of this introduction of technology at a young age, the digital divide will “naturally” close,
as Chandler stated.
Donald Mueller, Chris Chandler, and others we interviewed who shared their
views were all relatively experienced computer users, even if they hailed from differing
economic backgrounds. Yet like Donald and Chris, Tina Wilson, an Anglo single parent
with little direct experience in computers, was similarly unconvinced of programs that
purported to close the digital divide. As a low-paid day care provider, 28-year-old Tina
had limited access to computers through her work and lacked the means to purchase a
computer for her use with her 6-year-old daughter in their two-bedroom apartment. She
was looking forward to the day when she and her live-in boyfriend Ron, 26, would
receive his parents’ computer after they upgraded.
As a person whose income was close the poverty line yet was thoroughly
committed to her child’s education and related opportunities, one might assume that Tina
Wilson would be an ideal candidate for programs that seek to close the digital divide by
providing computers in the home for those who cannot afford them (for statistics on


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