A digital divide exists between those who can access information and communication technologies, and those who cannot. This divide leads to inequality in access to opportunities, services and other goods. This divide is bridged by considering how to include different groups of people as part of solution development. Highlighting digital inclusion during design is one way to avoid deepening the digital divide. Another is to measure digital skills that, if demonstrated, indicate an individual is not at risk of being digitally excluded: managing information, communicating with others, carrying out transactions, problem solving and creating.
There are different ways to categorise users – individuals can be actively disengaged, reluctantly online, destination users, willing but unable, learning the ropes or confident explorers. However, the digital divide can be an institutional issue. Through “institutionalising” processes, Madon et al (2007) describe how to normalise the use of digital technologies in such a way as to avoid the digital exclusion of entire communities:
- Obtain symbolic acceptance from the community
- Stimulate valuable social activity in the groups you want to target
- Link digital methods to viable revenue streams
- Enrol government support
Madon, S., Reinhard, N., Roode, D., & Walsham, G. (2007). Digital Inclusion Projects in Developing Countries: Processes of Institutionalisation. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, São Paulo, Brazil.