While most discussion around bridging the “digital divide” revolves around bringing high-speed Internet to homes where it’s currently unavailable, an encouraging new report from the Pew Research Center (via the New York Times) finds that the bridge is, in fact, being built through mobile Internet:
The survey, conducted in April by interviewing 2,253 Americans, found that while accessing the Internet via a mobile phone was increasing, the swell was reflected most sharply among African-Americans.
“The typical early adopter of a dozen years ago was a white guy in his mid- to late thirties,” said John Horrigan, associate director of the Pew Internet Project and principal author on the report. “Now you see the cutting edge in mobile Internet being populated by younger people of color.”
The report found that nearly half of all African-Americans and English-speaking Hispanics (the study did not include a Spanish-language option) were using mobile phones or other hand-held devices to surf the Web and send e-mail messages. By comparison, just 28 percent of white Americans reported ever going online using a mobile device.
Ever post something online during a heated moment and immediately regret it? Worried that flame war you took part in when you were younger will come back to haunt you during job interviews?
Up until now, the immortal nature of data on the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, information always remains at hand. On the downside… well, information always remains at hand. But now, as Read Write Web reports, researchers at the University of Washington are working on a way for you to “take back” that unadvisable missive or blog post you fired off without thinking. They’re calling it Vanish:
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Vanish is that it’s capable of erasing messages posted practically anywhere on the web. For example, the system is able to erase messages from any web-based email system like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, instant messaging chats, or even social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.
To accomplish this, the messages sent with Vanish are encrypted with a secret key, never revealed to the end user. The key is then divided into dozens of pieces and sent out over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks - the same ones where music and movie files are traded every day. Because file-sharing systems are in a state of constant change, the various key parts eventually become inaccessible. Once enough of them are lost, the message can no longer be decrypted and read.
Information Week reports that the National Security Agency is embracing cloud computing:
The system, currently in testing, will be geographically distributed in data centers around the country, and it will hold “essentially every kind of data there is,” said Randy Garrett, director of technology for NSA’s integrated intelligence program, at a cloud computing symposium last week at the National Defense University’s Information Resources Management College.
The system will house streaming data, unstructured text, large files, and other forms of intelligence data. Analysts will be able to add metadata and tags that, among other things, designate how securely information is to be handled and how widely it gets disseminated. For end users, the system will come with search, discovery, collaboration, correlation, and analysis tools.
The new system, once up and running, is expected to help solve a long-standing problem for U.S. intelligence efforts—namely, a lack of sharing between separate intelligence agencies.
The Ministry of Health has ordered a halt to a controversial electroshock treatment intended to help treat Internet addiction in teenagers, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday.
The Ministry said the therapy, which was administered by a clinic in Linyi, Shandong province, has not been proven to be safe.
Kong Lingzhong, editor of a domestic Internet addiction-themed portal told the Beijing News that there was still fierce debate over whether electroshock therapy was appropriate for young internet addicts.
“We have no clue whether this freaky treatment has side-effects,” Kong said.
A new report from Parks Associates finds that worldwide broadband adoption could potentially reach 650 million households within the next four years, and that the Asia-Pacific market will lead the charge with close to 50% of the global market share.
The report also cautions that service providers will have to continue investing heavily in their networks in order to keep up with the growing flood of online video and social networking applications.
IIA has submitted its feedback to the FCC on the National Broadband Strategy. Below are some highlights.
Regarding the state of broadband access in America:
A large number of first-round comments to the Commission started from the premise that broadband in America is an unmitigated failure. We disagree. In roughly one decade our nation has gone from practically no broadband deployment or adoption to roughly 90% availability and 50% adoption. This is an astounding accomplishment. Indeed the Orszag Report found broadband usage in 2008 (66.6 million households) nearly six times that in 2001 (10.4 million households). Cross-platform competition continues to grow between wire line, wireless and cable offerings, with promising new technologies such as broadband over power lines emerging. Market players invest roughly $60 - $80 billion annually in infrastructure upgrade and expansion of footprints, with an even more robust and competitive market for online applications.
As for what the commission’s next steps should be:
Despite the thousands of pages of comments and years worth of reports, there is still plenty that we do not know. Through the broadband mapping, FCC surveys, upcoming Census Bureau efforts and private efforts such as Pew, we will continue to learn much more precise information about where broadband is and is not and who is adopting and who is not (and why). Preliminary actions should therefore focus first on what we do know.
We know roughly 10 million households have no broadband choices. As has been noted previously, the vast majority of Americans with no option for broadband Internet are those living in rural areas, where sparse population density and difficult terrain inhibit private investment. Initial efforts and investment by the government should address these market failures, catalyzing investment in unserved communities where private returns would not justify it. Societal returns from ubiquitous connectivity warrant some measure of public investment, though specific investments must always be weighed against alternatives for reaching other unserved users (such as digital literacy programs in urban centers).
We also know roughly 40 percent of households choose not to invest in broadband. They fail to see the value despite compellingly low connection costs, especially now in tough economic times. That suggests the need for government efforts to promote digital literacy, lead by example in broadband-enabling government applications and educate consumers about the benefits and possibilities enabled by broadband Internet usage.
Orszag found that the number of households adopting broadband Internet service has increased six-fold from just 10.4 million households in 2001 to 66.6 million households in 2008. Not surprisingly, a corresponding decrease in households with dial-up Internet was identified during the same period, falling from 44.2 million in 2001 to just 10.5 million last year. And the number of homes without Internet service has also declined from 53.6 million to 39.7 million.
While this extraordinary growth in broadband adoption is satisfying for advocates like me, it also reminds us that we have a great deal of work left to do because almost 40 million homes still have not signed up for any Internet service at all. Fortunately, Orszag’s study also demonstrates that Americans’ positive attitudes toward broadband Internet are aligned with its continued expansion, capacity and adoption.
These are encouraging signs, but we must persist in our efforts until broadband adoption rates approach 100 percent and reach every corner of the country. Broadband offers too many opportunities in education, employment, health care, information and entertainment to leave so many families without the service.
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