A European Perspective on the Global Digital Divide and International Development Cooperation — A Workshop Introduction

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Sustainability in the Information Society
Workshop: Getting beyond the Digital Divide
This paper presents the global digital divide from a European point of view and contrasts it to the U.S. approach. The US answer to the global digital divide is found to work primarily through the private sector, using economic strategies of innovation and job creation with a dash of philanthropy. Europe, on the other hand, is strong in public-sector, ecological and social strategies. Inclusiveness is a key word in understanding the European point of view. The ecological thinking more prevalent in the European political spectrum is a second factor. It brings to the debate the wholly new field of study attempting to assess the effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on sustainable development and sustainability. In general, one must say that North America has had a headstart in the Information Society, and thus has framed the digital divide as a issue sooner than Europe. Secondly, the extremes of American capitalism gave America more reason to discover it domestic digital divide sooner. That realization and the U.S. federal tax code have given rise to stronger philanthropic giving by corporations, foundations and individuals than is currently common in Europe, where the state cares better for most. Furthermore, given Europe's lag in taking up the new ICTs, it is harder to find innovative global digital divide projects there initiated by corporations like America's leaders Microsoft, Cisco and Sun. Nonetheless a number of notable European success stories can be cited, each typically featuring a state component.
Ruddy, Thomas F. (2001): A European Perspective on the Global Digital Divide and International Development Cooperation — A Workshop Introduction. Sustainability in the Information Society. Marburg: Metropolis. Workshop: Getting beyond the Digital Divide. Zürich. 2001