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Closing the Digital Divide

Techstination feature for Monday, April 15, 2002

Closing the digital divide. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. There's been somewhat of a debate of late... about whether there really is a digital divide separating technology haves and have-nots. At Intel, worldwide community education manager Roma Arellano argues the divide is real... .and those who point to the availability of computers in some schools and public libraries are missing the point...

"The digital divide doesn't live and die by Internet access only. Because Internet access does not leave us with the skills that we need to be successful in the new economy."

So Intel is spending 32 million dollars to help fund Computer Clubhouses for under-served young people around the world. The idea started with the MIT Media Lab and the Boston Museum of Science. Intel's goal is to open 100 centers in all... .and it is nearly half way there with the opening of two this month in Harlem. Arellano says they are drop in centers... not affiliated with schools...

"You walk in and it's like an imagination workshop or an invention studio. Dim lighting, track lighting, really neat colors of paint on the wall, computers set up in clusters, versus all facing the wall or an instructor. Little gadgets like microscopes, digitized microscopes and digitized cameras and video cameras ... a digitized music studio."

Peers and adult mentors work with the kids... ages 8 to 18. The goal is to give them the ability to create using technology... .skills which Arellano says will make a difference in closing the digital divide.