Bridging Social and Digital Divide?
There is inequality in the world is a known fact. Richest 1% of the world own more than what the rest of the 99% of the world own, gives a gravity of this divide.
The Internet and Digitization have been touted as a great social equalizers. They have been, and they have not been.
Internet was a great equalizer in the early and initial years, before wads of money started flowing into the industry in the form of the angel / venture capital money. Slowly but surely, the power of money started influencing the direction of the evolution and influence from the industry.
Entire last two centuries of social progress has been towards fighting and eliminating this “Control Mechanism of few powerful people on the entire society”. The “Land for the Ryots (farmer)” in India post independence is one such famous act, that put the lands in the hands of the farm labourers, from the Zamindars.
Unfortunate that the “supposed to be social equalizer”, “Internet”, with its inflated investments and valuations is heading towards the “Zamindar-ization” of the digital businesses. More concerning is the fact that the elite thinkers of the world are yet to realize (or to acknowledge and act, which is perhaps the reality) this fact.
The divide is probably justifiable and OK, if the bottom of the society is also progressing. Which seems to be the case (or is it? let us assume for now). Most everybody now has a TV and CellPhone, that they did not have say ten to twenty years ago. World has become affordable.
Or so it seems, until we take a deeper look. Here is a wonderful blog article from Francis Smart (Thank You Francis), on the true impact on the bottom 25% of the world (by income). What the analysis shows, should be a cause for concern. Please read the full article at the link below:
Summarizing in a nutshell, “Effect of decreased income coupled with increased costs has created a situation in which a higher proportion of the lower 25% are at risk of being classified in poverty as at any time since the 1980s” and “their income in terms of purchasing power is falling”.
“…. The poorest 25% of society now how less purchasing power than they did in the 1980s while the cost of rent, education, and health care have all risen. Despite having the odds stacked against them, the poorest 25% are better educated than at any time in history. Yet, their incomes have continued to falter while their divorce rates have grown steadily higher”.
A situation that is a perfect contradiction. A rich society, Billions of dollars of investments for seemingly trivial ideas, valuations that are beyond ridiculous, growing Dow, NASDAQ, Nifty, Sensex indexes. Coupled with the 25% of the population that is supposed to be feeling they are in good times – but actually facing lower purchasing power and increasing living costs, inspite of the higher levels of education and degrees.
This is a dangerous cocktail of a situation for the world to be in. It does not take much for an educated and learned youth to be vulnerable when “observing richness everywhere around while feeling desperate at not being able find a decent job and growth opportunities”.
Is ISIS by any chance a by-product of the society we are investing in, a society with increased social and economic and information divide?
Many from the InformationExcellenceGroup community ask, “What beyond conducting some Knowledge Share sessions and Summit Conferences? Can we do something more”?
If we like to live in a peaceful world, social equity is an essential ingredient. Can “Information Excellence Group play a role in there?
We can start with the kind of work Francis Smart has done, that brings out the “Information” from the Data Mass, and helps us validate or correct the perceptions from the reality?
If you are passionate about the topic, if you finished reading Frank’s blog, if it made you sit straight and wonder why this is happening, if you remained restless and started wondering why this should be true if this is true, then I would like to invite you to give your committed time to make a difference in this context, within the realm of the Information Excellence Group scope and focus. In that case, send your thoughts and notes to us through this blog site. And reach us at informationexcellencegroup at gmail dot com with “two things you can do and like to do” in this context.
And hey, keep this in the mind as you go out for the Black Friday Sales and start seeking out the deals. And if the deal you got is contributing to the negative purchasing power of somebody somewhere in the world!
Happy Thanks Giving and holidays.
Contributed by Nagaraj Kulkarni, Information Excellence Group Volunteer
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