Limited technology – limited access to information

MinnPost recently published an article by Ed Kohler that demonstrates the limitations of a broadbandless life.

I recently ran into a woman from Somalia at Marshall & Lowry across the street from Tony Jaros’. She was looking or Snelling Ave. As in, she took the wrong bus from Riverside and found herself in NE Minneapolis instead of the Midway area of St Paul. She had a dumb phone, and was attempting to find an organization that provides free/cheap computers to people in need. I pulled out my Android phone and showed her a map of where she was vs. where she meant to be, then showed her the bus options to get there. Then offered to call her an Uber.

I’ve done exactly what she did (taken the wrong bus). But, I have the resources in my pocket to recover from my mistakes far easier than she does (and, to realize things are off quicker since I can see myself move on a map in real time when I’m on a bus). She’s not stupid (we all make mistakes like that), but her access to information is far different than mine.

While Ed’s example is taken from an urban setting, you can easily extrapolate to see the impact in rural areas too. Although in metro areas I think the primary bottleneck tends to be expense – expense of owning a device and expense of connectivity. In rural areas expense is a bottleneck – but access is a bottleneck too. Ironically, I type this between as we drive Troy and Bowling Green Missouri. We are officially off the grid. I can’t get directions from my Smartphone (which is going to hurt us) and I can’t access TripAdvisor from the laptop (which means we will not be stopping anywhere near here for lunch).


Mobilewireless is not – so I can’t check TripAdvisor for restaurant views in Bowling Green.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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