JOURNAL OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES, VOLUME 3, ISSUE 7, JULY 20131
A Bi-National Perspective of Digital Inclusionin Brazil and in the United States
A. M. Oliveira and T. Menezes
is an emerging cooperative strategy between private and public sectors to provide a path to digitalempowerment by establishing infrastructure, providing training, and building a sustainable support structure. It can also bedefined as the opportunity to access the Internet, and to educational and professional opportunities tied to this access. Previousevidence on the subject indicates that Digital inclusion can cause significant social and economical impacts to any society. Thisarticle aims to describe and made a comparative analysis of these impacts with a bi-national perspective. Brazil and the U.S,have complementary challenges and assets related to digital inclusion. The unique complementary challenges and opportunitiesin the U.S. and Brazil make the investigation in this paper an ideal opportunity to foster cross-cultural learning andimprovements to develop a workforce to address needs in both countries. We also compare technical and social-economicalimpact of digital inclusion in Brazil and in the U.S, and present some of the major achievements and challenges of implementinga public policy of digital inclusion in both countries. The results presented here indicate that the digital divide is still a greatchallenge faced by both countries, reinforced by the contrasting evidence of large growth in Internet access and in diversifieduses of ICTs as well as the continuity of large inequalities.
Information and Communication Technologies, Digital Inclusion, Digital Divide, Community Informatics,Telecenters, ICTs in Brazil.
he twenty-first century can be described as the infor-mation age, when the capacity to communicate is akey to human development in many levels. In recentyears, interest has grown in the use of
information andcommunication technologies
(ICTs) as a tool for education,economic development, and social well-being in develop-ing regions of the world.
is an emergingcooperative strategy between private and public sectorsto provide a path to digital empowerment by establishinginfrastructure, providing training, and building a sustain-able support structure. Studies have consistently shownthat individuals with access to ICTs tend to have moreeducation, higher incomes, and higher status occupationsthan do those without such access. This holds true in theU.S., as well as globally, as pointed out by results fromthe World Internet Project .On the other hand,
refers to exactly the op-posite: the lack of access to the Internet, and to education-al and professional opportunities tied to this access. Thesegment of the society with limited access to computersand internet are disadvantaged as to compete for jobs, tocommunicate and get connected to people, to learn andimprove their professional/technical skills. The term
Global Digital Divide
is distinguishable from the
Global Digital Divide
is the rapidly growingdisparities in the utilization, expenditure, and availabilityof technology on a worldwide scale. The global digitaldivide involves economic, educational, and social aspectsthat influence the levels of information communicationtechnology development in each country . Accordingto the 2002 World Economic Forum report on the globaldigital divide, 88% of all Internet users are from industri-alized countries counting for only 15% of the world’spopulation ,. From the political point of view, theproblem can be elaborated in three aspects: global divide,social divide, and democratic divide . The definitionsin  focuses on the gaps of Internet access only coveringinternational and domestic levels, and finally narrowsdown to individual engagement, mobilization and partic-ipation. However, due to constant technology develop-ment, the scope of the issue is expanding continually .In -, the authors broaden the scope of the issue toinclude four major aspects: access, skills, economic oppor-tunity and democratic divide.
In the following sections of this paper, we take into consideration these four categories tocompare several aspects of digital inclusion in Brazil and in theUnited States.
Despite of the fact that the United State is a developedcountry and Brazil is still a country in development,
is present in both countries. However, the
public policies in each country have be orientedtowards different aspects. Since the late 1990s, the Brazil-ian digital inclusion public policy has been oriented to-wards social participation, job skills, citizenship, and the building of a public ICT infrastructure, while in the U.S.these public policies have been more economically orient-ed, geared towards access, and training with a focus on job skills . The main reasons for digital divide in bothcountries may also differ, ranging from disparity in Inter-
A. M. Oliveira is with the Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, 49931, USA.
T. Menezes is with the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP,Brazil.