Title: Bridging the Digital Divide
Thesis: Today we have the idea that the Internet is a global place, but it’s far from true. Developing countries don’t have the resources necessary for infrastructure, and those that do still have trouble maintaining technology that advances exponentially. This is not just a divide between those with technology and those without it. It’s a divide between those who can keep up and those who can’t. Web designers consistently develop for outdated and legacy technologies: it’s part of the practice. Many see this as a crutch that is holding back innovation. How can the field of web design simultaneously advance while working to close the gap between the highest and lowest ends of the technology spectrum? My thesis aims to inform those in the field of the people we leave in the dust when we develop for smartphones or retina screens, and will attempt to discuss ways to deal with the problem, including accessibility, and graceful degradation.
Keywords: technology, the web, divide, information design, accessibility
Theoretical overview: The project is a discussion of this new problem of the digital divide and will include research and data on what the world really looks like when it comes to the internet. Anne Balsamo talked about inventions and innovations. The transition between these two things is central to the idea of the digital divide, and needs to be understood in order to deal with the problem. Steven Johnson talked about emergence, and how the many could create something that the few never saw coming. The change in perspective from a top-down to a bottom-up approach is also at the center of understanding the digital divide.
Methodological overview: Data analysis, most likely in the form of an interactive information visualization. The project will contain data collected about technology penetration rates, global users, and Internet situations in different countries. It will also be accompanied by a paper highlighting key points and discussing the context for the problem and possible solutions.