Chief Executives of Netflix and CommonSenseMedia Comment On the Digital Divide

This New York Times piece Will the Digital Divide Close by Itself? From the Google’s Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age provides a look at and arguments about the digital divide from two different perspectives.

From Jim Steyer, chief executive of CommonSense Media and co-sponsor of the event

“every kid needs to be digitally literate by the 8th grade” and called for a major public education campaign to make that happen. He argued that technology and learning are synonymous and that schools, parents, and kids must get up to speed in the next five years.

On the other hand:

Reed Hastings, the founder and chief executive of Netflix, contradicted him directly, saying it would take well more than five years to bridge the divide.

Mr. Hastings, an avid education philanthropist and proponent of school reforms, argued that at the advent of any new technology — television, cars, even rockets — people get riled up and wring their hands over a growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

He said that gaps narrow naturally as the market evolves and prices drop, enabling more people to bring new technology into the home and schools.

Most interestingly:

“We need to shift our expectations,” Mr. Hastings said. “This is a natural part of the evolution of technology.”

If I understand this correctly he is saying that the digital divide is part of an evolutionary process where technology and access to technology will be ubiquitous. I’m not sure I make the connection.

Most importantly:

Failed school reform might point to the need for more efforts outside of the classroom.

This is where libraries need to step in. We need to help students close the digital divide because what that means, what were talking about is the same thing as transliteracy. Becoming transliterate closes the digital divide. If schools can’t or wont, libraries need to step forward. We’ve done it for years with literacy, we need to do it now with transliteracy.

Originally blogged at Commentary On the Digital Divide from the Chief Executives of Netflix & CommonSenseMedia | Librarian by Day.

3 Responses to “Chief Executives of Netflix and CommonSenseMedia Comment On the Digital Divide”

  1. cyberdoyle Says:

    I think the libraries could play a vital part, in the same way they provided books when people couldn’t afford them. But the fact remains that the best way to close the digital divide is to provide decent, ubiquitous, affordable broadband access to everyone. Its the only way forward.
    Fibre to the homes, businesses and masts.
    chris

    • Bobbi Newman Says:

      Hi Chris – The digital divide most often refers to the lack of access to the technology – computers, routers, internet access and does not address the skills needed to use these. While it may seem that using a computer is easy the online world can be complicated to navigate and intimidating for those who have not grown up with computers or the internet. These skills are where libraries come it.

      While providing affordable broadband solves part of the problem, there are still a great many people who can not afford the computer necessary or the monthly service fee no matter how low. It is important the libraries continue to provide computer and internet access including free wifi.

      The reason libraries have provided books is more complex than simply because people could not afford them. It is about access to information and knowledge and the internet is an important part of that now.

  2. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by shannonmmiller: Chief Executives Netflix & CommonSenseMedia Comment On the Digital Divide Libraries & Transliteracy http://ow.ly/1ceAg #vanmeter @jensigrist…


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