Net equity

Wed, 15 Jun 1994 11:40:59 -0400

>As both an anthropologist and a librarian, I have followed with great
>interest the recent thread on electronic journals as an alternative
>to print. While I agree with most of the comments on the potential
>benefits of electronic journals, I can think of one problem that no
>one has mentioned. What happens to our colleagues, especially in the
>third world, that do not have access to the Internet? One response
>might be that they will have access sooner or later. But is it
>proper to leave them in the dark until that time comes? Given that
>many countries have a telecommunications infrastructure that barely
>supports an antiquated telephone network, let alone the "information
>superhighway," that time will probably come later than sooner. And
>what will happen if (when?) Internet access is based on a user fee?
>How many of them (and us) will find it difficult or impossible to
>stay connected.
>One might argue that such inequity already exists with our print
>based system, especially for those journals with obscenely high
>subscription rates. But for print sources at least there is the
>possibility of old-fashioned interlibrary loan via photocopiers and
>snail-mail. Perhaps we will need a similar system even in the age of
>the electronic journal!
>What do you think?
>| Wade Kotter |
>| Social/Behavioral Sciences Bibliographer |
>| Adjunct Faculty--Anthropology |
>| Stewart Library |
>| Weber State University |
>| Ogden, UT 84408-2901 |
>| Voice: 801-626-7458 Fax: 801-626-6057 |
>| EMail: |
>| |

I am glad you brought this point up; it is significant. It is
becoming apparent that in our wondrous global information society, we are
clearly seeing quickly dividing camps of info-rich (info-haves) and
info-poor (info-have-nots.) This division closely parallels all the other
previously noted global divisions, e.g. First World vs. Third/Fourth, core
vs. periphery, G7/Security Council vs. everybody else, etc...
The invidious problem, as you note, is not just the lack of
information in other societies, but the lack of *access* to information -
of the availability of a print/library or phone/communications
infrastructure for distributing information... indeed, the "brain drain" on
many societies like India and China results from the move of many competent
scholars to places where they can get access...
All I can contribute in the discussion of this problem is that
"information infrastructure" should be part and parcel of international
development... that AID, the World Bank, etc. should consider that
technical assistance and technology transfer, without facilitating
communication and information transfer, is a good way to make sure
technology goes unused or misused...
What amazes me is how poor the phone system is in otherwise 'advanced'
societies such as Israel. OK, it's only 45 years old. But was it a pain in
the butt to make international calls back to the U.S.! And the sound
fidelity left much to be desired... transferring data must be even more

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, Guerilla Ontologist, Chaotician
Discordian Society, Counter-Illuminati Operations Branch
"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski
"The menu is not the meal." -- Alan Watts