AND THE NON-DIGITAL UNDIVIDE

                          Sunkyo Kwon, Ph.D.

   The expression  "Digital Divide"  has outgrown its catchphrase 
status   --   it has become official terminology.  There are even  
government  websites  internationally  using  the expression, not 
just  for meeting  mottos or press  releases:  I know of at least 
one  instance where  a government has built a site with  the term 
"digitaldivide"  contained in the URL  (the  website address  that 
one enters into the web browser). 
   However, a phenomenon that has existed for much, much longer is 
the  "Non-Digital  Undivide".   Simply speaking,  it refers to the 
elimination of social inequality; it is virtually common knowledge 
that  social  gradients  account for  physical  and  mental health 
inequalities and adverse  outcomes for  the  lower  socio-economic 
strata,   although  despite  decades of research,  not all  of the 
underlying mechanisms are yet fully understood. The rationales for 
this predicament has been linked to unequal access to material and 
immaterial adaptive  resources by  way  of  prestige,  income, and 
formal knowledge or education. Other factors include environmental 
trauma and exposure, sex and age.        A multitude of scientific 
disciplines  has  devoted  its  research to  this  topic  and  its 
subtopics and an end is not in sight.
   If   we  ponder  about     the  psychology of the Digital-Divide 
popularization, it could be suspected that it is nourished by a me-
too/us-too     attitude.   For  instance,  differential  access  to 
technological  resources analogous to the Digital  Divide have been 
formulated  by movements such  as "universal design",  "design  for 
all"  and  "universal design" and  these  and  other  branches  are 
working hard at  solutions for accomodating special subpopulations, 
particularly the disabled, handicapped, and frail elderly. 
   A   consequence  of  this kind   of  thinking   would  be to set 
priorities,   and  rather   than  providing  individuals,   groups, 
cultures, and nations  with equal access to modern  information and 
communication   technology   (ICT), it may seem rational to furnish 
equal access to health services first. 
   This must not be the case. 
   Much  rather,  unequal  access to  ICT is  a facet of the overall 
picture. Social inequality with  all its repercussions constitutes a 
second-order umbrella phenomenon:    Baseline phenomena include (but 
are   not   limited to)  access to health, access  to public places, 
access to transportation, access to other people, access to cultural 
assets and so forth. This is not an issue of setting priorities, ITC 
is  with us in the present just as  other resources that  have to be 
made accessible. 
   So, we should not think in  terms of bridging  Digital Divides or 
Non-Digital Undivides,  but the problem should be conceived as truly 
bridging ALL divides in a universal way.