RHE 309K: Arguing the Digital Divide (Spring 2006)


cnn katrina safelist

As victims of Hurricane Katrina and their loved ones scrambled to locate one another in August of 2005, the internet became an invaluable tool. In Austin, Austin Free-Net helped evacuees locate family members by setting up contemporary computer labs in the Austin Convention Center.

Most major news sources developed "safelists" where survivors could communicate with loved ones. Access to technology was most definitely the last thing on the minds of Katrina victims. However, the Internet became a source of information and a space where separated family members could reunite.

The Katrina tragedy triggered conversations about poverty, class, and race in America, and this class will also touch on a number of these issues. We will look at the arguments surrounding the Digital Divide - the gap between technological "haves" and "have-nots." In reading and analyzing these arguments, our goal will be to figure out why this topic gained momentum in the 1990s and why it still draws interest from politicians, academics, and concerned citizens.