The digital divide 2

Posted by Richter
Richter
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on Tuesday, 03 July 2012
in General Blogs

My home is in a rural village on the Eastern Cape WildCoast in a village in the Umngazi valley but working as a freelance academic editor means commuting between home in the old 'Transkei' and home in Durban, where my family lives.

There is no electricity in our neighbourhood yet, but we use a petrol generator at home to charge batteries for laptops, cellphones, cameras and torches. Cooking is done on gas or fire and the two 5 000litre rainwater tanks supply our water.

Where/when possible, we grow vegetables and herbs for food and ever so often a fish, river crab or some prawns are caught/provided, to supplement our diet.

Life is good, quiet and peaceful and digital interaction is limited to when the weather doesn't allow for being outside or when there is work to be done online. Balance.

Online activities, once batteries are charged, happen because of 3G connectivity via modem for the laptops, otherwise the Samsung Galaxy Pro acquired a month or so ago, does the trick. The battery needs charging daily when used to 'work' online and the keyboard takes some getting used to after working on the laptop, but otherwise it is more than adequate to 'stay in touch'.

Then the Durban trip happens and for a while the 'outside' becomes something left behind in the Kei and as substitute...adsl=online living...catching up (reading, reading and more reading), posting on facebook, writeup cafe, tumblr and blogspots, research for academic writing and articles, and, and, and...

...and learning about the digital divide between myself as a 'need-to-know' user as opposed to those of you who live the digital life and have to answer all my questions and instruct me in the 'use' of all things digital.

Not that it's that complex or even complicated...just foreign. Foreign as in I did not grow up with television and computers, yet my children did. They have never had to 'manually' achieve so many different things that it can be quite frustrating to have to explain that yes, manual takes longer but just because there's no electricity, or connectivity, there are other options.

Queueing (to pay accounts, reserve tickets, buy spares, clothes, even groceries) is not an option for those who live a digital life, it's done in an instant and it's done online. With so many different social networks, 'friendships' blossom online and 'popularity' is measured by the number of likes / reblogs / and subject specific or general followers you have.

And as much as I value the digital life, I must admit that I am old-school enough to still enjoy the occasional queueing in person, one-on-one and physical face-to-face contact (no not skype or google or facebook - they all seem to have a little video icon now) as well as sitting outside, under the stars or the sunshine, chatting and enjoying the company of friends.

After a few weeks in the city though, I find myself a little lost for words when in face-to-face situations and when someone bothersome insists on crowding my space, it would be so simple if it were online, as I would have the option of hiding their comments, unsubscribing or 'unfriending' them, log out of the chatroom or exclude them from my circles.

And that, to me, is what makes it a digital divide and a little like la-la land...real but not really hey!

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Shiraz
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Shiraz Wednesday, 04 July 2012

real insight

wow...that opens my mind!

Richter
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Richter Wednesday, 04 July 2012

thanks

Thanks for the comment Shiraz...appreciated.

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