The article in question starts with this erroneous comment:

"I am low-income and computers are not low-income," says Marcella Morris, 
sitting on the front step of her apartment building on a sweltering day last 

A $50 used computer and under $20 per month gets one on the internet with 
broadband quite adequately, and a dialup connection can be had for under $40 
per year.

My contention is simply that cost is not the cause of the so-called "digital 
divide".  And that most low-income people in this country spend far more 
than that on mindless entertainment, as do most people of any income level.  
Let's get real here.

----Original Message Follows----
From: Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List              
<[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2007 16:26:35 -0500

I am uncomfortable with Eric's comment, which seems to be blaming the poor 
for their lack of computer access.

I also think that on a list about science it ought to be possible to do 
better than make claims that begin "I bet". Why not do a little research 


At 1:31 PM -0400 7/24/07, Eric Entemann wrote:
>I'll bet a lot of lower-income people have big TVs and cable, but no 
>computer or broadband.  A computer that is adequate for broadband net 
>access can bought new for little and used for almost nothing. The primary 
>computer I use is an old Pentium 3 that has a value of maybe $50.  And if 
>need be, cable TV could be sacrificed for cable broadband.  So no doubt 
>choice is a big factor here.
>But, of course, much more needs to be done toward the provision of 
>technology education and low-cost broadband.  And more public access to 
>computers on the internet as alternatives to libraries and schools and 
>Starbucks.  For example, when I visited Tucson three yy ago, I was pleased 
>to find the Univ. of AZ computer center to be open long hours and to have 
>free public access with no time limit. Every computer even had a CD burner 
>available for downloads.
>----Original Message Follows----
>From: Sam Anderson <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List             
><[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide
>Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2007 08:38:17 -0400
>Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide
>By Jose Antonio Vargas
>Washington Post Staff Writer
>Monday, July 23, 2007; C01
>CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Less than a mile and a half from the Citadel, the  site 
>of the Democratic presidential debate tonight, sits Cooper River  Courts, a 
>public housing project. Forget the Web. Never mind YouTube,  the debate's 
>co-sponsor. Here, owning a computer and getting on the  Internet (through 
>DSL or cable or Wi-Fi) is a luxury.
>"I am low-income and computers are not low-income," says Marcella Morris, 
>sitting on the front step of her apartment building on a sweltering day 
>last week.
>The unemployed 45-year-old adds: "I know how to use a computer. I just 
>can't afford one right now."
>There exists "two Americas," as John Edwards, South Carolina's own son, 
>likes to say: an America for the rich and an America for the poor. But what 
>Edwards and the rest of the presidential field have yet to adequately 
>address are the two Americas online: one that's connected to high-speed 
>Internet -- socializing, paying bills, uploading debate questions to 
>presidential candidates on YouTube -- and one that's not. This is the 
>digital divide, now more than a decade old, a rarely discussed schism in 
>which the unconnected are second-class citizens. In some parts of this 
>so-called Internet ghetto, the screech of a telephone modem dialing up to 
>get online is not uncommon. And with dial-up, YouTube is impossible to use.
>Between 40 to 45 percent of Charlestonians, city officials here estimate, 
>subscribe to high-speed Internet. That figure is nearly in line with the 
>national average, according to the nonpartisan group Free Press. And though 
>a study released last month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project 
>found that broadband use among African American adults increased from 14 
>percent in 2005 to 40 percent this year, blacks continue to lag behind 
>whites and English- speaking Latinos. In fact, a great number of American 
>households , especially in rural areas and poorer parts of cities such as 
>Charleston, are without broadband.
>And in a presidential election that's being fought as much online as off it 
>-- all campaigns employ Web strategies -- some say the candidates have 
>generally ignored the issue.
>"I would argue that the digital divide is worse than it was 10 years ago. 
>Back then everyone -- schools, businesses -- was trying to get online. 
>These days every single Fortune 500 company has its employees, its 
>customers and its suppliers connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 
>the meantime, while our students have online access at school, many of them 
>don't have it at home," says Andrew Rasiej, a member of a panel studying 
>universal Internet access in New  York, and co-founder of TechPresident, a 
>nonpartisan blog that tracks  the online campaign.
>"Our presidential candidates may all have BlackBerrys, but they have no 
>vision when it comes to bringing all our citizens to the 21st century. If 
>you go to look at the presidential candidate Web sites, the word 'Internet' 
>practically doesn't exist. Breaking the digital divide has not been 
>recognized as a critical issue," Rasiej continues.
>Two months ago, TechPresident challenged the candidates to adopt specific 
>policies to get everyone online. "Declare the Internet a public good in the 
>same way we think of water, electricity, highways," reads a policy 
>statement. "Commit to providing affordable high-speed wireless Internet 
>access nationwide," reads another. So far most of the candidates have not 
>adopted any of it, Rasiej says.
>"At one level, the YouTube debate shows that the Web has really become a 
>centerpiece of American political culture," adds Lee Rainie,  director of 
>Pew Internet. "At another level, it also shows that the  debate is not for 
>everybody. It's certainly not available to all  Americans."
>That is especially true at Cooper River Courts, where Tiara Reid, 14,  in 
>her jeans shorts and pink striped top, runs up and down the complex asking 
>friends if anyone wants to go the library. Finally her  mom, Jossie, who 
>works at a deli, drives her and a neighbor's daughter. With school out and 
>without Internet access at home, the library is the only place where she 
>can go on the Web -- for a maximum of two hours a day. Says Tiara: "It's 10 
>minutes to get to the library if someone drives you. It's 15 minutes if you 
>take the 30  bus. It's about 30 minutes if you walk." On the library's 
>second floor, she folds herself up on a chair and updates her MySpace 
>profile, sends e-mails on her Yahoo! account and, if there's time, surfs 
>Across from the Reids' apartment stands LaToya Ferguson, holding her 
>grandson Marquis. She's one of the few residents here to have Internet 
>access at home. It's a sense of pride for her. "You're falling behind if 
>you're not online, now that's the truth," says Ferguson, a nail technician 
>in her 30s.
>Nearby Marcella Morris runs after her son Donny, who's nearly 2. Morris 
>says she relies on "the three F's" -- food stamps, family and friends -- to 
>provide for Donny and her 7-year-old daughter, Jordan. Money's tight. She 
>has a phone, subscribes to cable, but that's it. No cellphone, no car, no 
>computer. At 3 in the morning, when an infomercial about the Web-based 
>Specialty Merchandise Corp.comes on TV, she dreams of owning a business, 
>she says.
>A few weeks ago, she signed up for a computer program at Trident Literacy 
>Association, a 10-minute walk from her apartment. At the end  of the 
>10-week program, she will receive a refurbished computer, free.
>"Never too late to start, right?" Morris says. "But after I get the 
>computer I have to worry about the Internet."
>It's a familiar story around the country, even in places as Internet- savvy 
>as San Francisco, Chicago and the District. Who can get online?  Who can't? 
>And what can be done about it?
>Charlestonians pay as little as $20 or as much as $99 (which covers phone, 
>cable and the Internet) a month to get online, depending on the package. 
>There are a few free Wi-Fi "hot spots" in town, such as the Cereality cafe 
>on King Street, where a cappuccino costs $2.99.
>Nearly two years ago, officials vowed to spread Internet access across the 
>city. An initiative called the Charleston Digital Corridor  selected a 
>proposal to build a citywide Wi-Fi grid. It was meant to  give everybody 
>free Wi-Fi -- and the city didn't even have to pay for  it. As in other 
>municipalities that are developing public Wi-Fi  projects, now numbering 
>around 400, the goal is twofold: to empower  small businesses and to plug 
>poorer neighborhoods such as Cooper  River Courts into the online world.
>But like other cities, including San Francisco, Charleston has struggled 
>with its Wi-Fi project. The city originally said the service would be up 
>and running at the end of 2005. It was delayed. Twice. When it finally was 
>launched last spring, the Wi-Fi reached only about 30 to 40 percent of its 
>intended coverage.
>And the Charlestonians tapping into the free Wi-Fi network -- sometimes 
>more than 200 surfers a day -- were largely the ones who could already 
>afford to pay for it.
>Now the citywide Wi-Fi project is in limbo. But Ernest Andrade, head of the 
>Digital Corridor, is optimistic: "We're evaluating right now and I know 
>that we'll bring Wi-Fi access to the rest of this city," he pledges. Morris 
>sounds upbeat, too. She plans on sticking with her  10-week computer 
>course. "Not having the Internet in this day and  time makes me feel 
>disconnected from a whole other world. Things I  could see, things I could 
>hear, things I could do.
>"I could take my kids to other places on the Internet," says Morris as 
>Donny naps on her lap. "Sometimes I feel shortchanged. Not envious, but 
>She just turned 45 three days ago. By her 46th birthday, she hopes to  own 
>a computer -- and be online.
>s. e. anderson (author of "The Black Holocaust for Beginners" - Writers + 
>Readers) +
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