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The Connectivity Divide: Are You One of the Truly Connected?

Chapter Description

Years ago, the concept of a digital divide drew a line between the computer literate and illiterate. Today, the digital divide is a gradient of connectivity, and the places where connectivity is possible are always widening. Find out how this expansion of connectivity affects people differently in this sample chapter.

Let's start with a simple test. Draw a line under the last question to which you can answer yes.

I sometimes receive postal mail.

I have a home phone.

I have cable TV at home (or satellite).

My home phone is cordless.

I use the Internet from home.

I have at least one cell phone.

I use e-mail for either work or family matters from home.

I have high-speed Internet (cable or DSL) at home.

I use instant messaging either at home or work.

I sometimes work from home instead of going into the office.

I carry my cell phone wherever I carry my wallet.

I use text messaging (via cell or PDA).

I usually pay (if necessary) at hotels for high-speed Internet access.

I could make use of an XML document if I wanted.

I use a hybrid PDA (cell, e-mail, text services).

I use "virtual office" groupware tools (document sharing, messaging).

I sometimes work at 3:30 in the morning.

I expect airports, campgrounds, rest stops, trains, buses, and planes to have WiFi service. Actually, I expect it absolutely everywhere.

I sometimes make free voice calls over the Internet.

I usually work from home and have given up my true office.

There is a dividing line between the truly connected members of our society and those who are not. The value of Inescapable Data technologies can only be realized by crossing the line. In 2005, most career-oriented adults fall somewhere between being connected newborns to having advanced to the toddler stage. Teens and twenty-somethings, the future workforce, are another story. They are showing their parents the way.


"There is a way in which technology is inexorable, so I doubt there is a way to stop any of this," explains Dr. Nicholas Christakis, notable Harvard University sociologist. "Is there a socioeconomic class getting left behind? Sometimes, technology improves standards of living, and sometimes, it increases the difference between the top and the bottom. Regarding data and connectivity, like the washing machine and dishwasher benefits, we’re all better off. Sure, there is still a difference between the top and the bottom, but the fundamental benefits are realized by all. We all drive cars; some drive Mercedes and some drive Hyundais, but we all get places."

Inescapable Data and the value of connectivity will be available to everyone, eventually. We may cross into the competence zone at different times and with varying degrees of sophistication with regard to the use of our new "toys." As we approach the middle years of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the main issue will be building the wireless "information" infrastructure, much as the main issue of the early 1990s was building the Internet infrastructure. Here, we examine the status and future of the great wireless build-out, because only when that is fully in place can society as a whole cross the connectivity divide.

2. Wireless and WiFi: From Confusion and Competition to Possible Synergy | Next Section

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