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31 août 2010 2 31 /08 /août /2010 23:13


(Ce pastiche du fameux "Joujou du pauvre", extrait de Le Spleen de Paris, de Charles Baudelaire, veut illustrer les dangers de la fracture numérique; l'usage de la langue anglaise vient universaliser le discours)


digitalDivide.jpgI want to convey the idea of an innocent diversion. There are so few pastimes which are not blameworthy. When you stroll in these new artificial worlds created from the Internet, in which the rich have access to so many premium services, higher QoS and video quality, safer transactions, easier way into e-libraries and e-administration, better recruitment features,  ̶  and describe them to neglected and poor people you meet in the real world, living away from dense urban areas or simply not connected to the Network for economic reasons. You will see their eyes grow immoderately big. And if you give them a few minutes of pre-paid access to the Network, they won’t believe in their good luck. At first they won’t dare take anything. Then their hands will grab the virtual keyboard avidly, and they will run off like cats who go far away from you to eat the piece of food you gave them. They will soon fully realize how deep is the digital divide. These people have learned to distrust state-led Network roll-out and net neutrality rules. 


 On a road, behind the iron gate of a large garden at the end of which you could see the whiteness of an attractive mansion well linked to all kinds of fixed and wireless Networks, there was a child dressed in those new connected clothes which help to stay tuned with friends on Google Connext and keep gaming while wandering outside.


Luxury, freedom from care, and the habitual display of digital knowledge make those children so efficient on the Internet that you could believe them made from a different substance than the children of an unconnected or poor class.


Beside him on the grass lay a beautiful tablet, as beautiful as its master, 5G-enabled, equipped with holographic communication and Google's latest speech recognition. But the child was paying no attention to his favourite toy. This is what he was looking at:


On the other side of the iron gate, on the road, in the midst of thistles and nettles, there was another child, dirty, frail, unconnected, one of those child-waifs whose potential an impartial eye might discover if, as the eye of a connoisseur guesses the ideal painting under a body varnish, it cleaned the child of the repulsive patina of digital ignorance.


Through the symbolic bars separating two worlds, the main road and the mansion, the poor child was showing his own toy to the rich child who was greedily examining it as if it were a rare and strange object. Now, this toy which the small ragamuffin was cautiously leafing, was an old book! His parents, for economy’s sake doubtless, had gotten the toy from an abandoned garbage dump.


As the two children laughed fraternally at one another, they showed teeth of a similar whiteness.




(1) Charles Baudelaire - « The poor boy's toy » - Le Spleen de Paris - 1862

(2)  Phil Muncaster – « ONS stats reveal hefty digital divide » – v3.co.uk – 31 août 2010

(3) Michel Briand – « Fractures numériques en France et en Europe: interview de Pierre Montagner » - @Brest - 28 Juin 2010

(4) Ucilia Wang – « Intel and Nokia's mobile dream: 3-D graphics in Smartphones » - DailyFinance.com - 23 août 2010

(5) Tom Krazit – « Google finding its voice » - CNET News - 31 août 2010

(6) Andy – « M-Dress incorporates a cellular phone » - Andy's wearable computing notebook - 19 août 2010


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Olivier 01/09/2010 08:06

Very sound post which once more highlights one of the main topics at stake when it comes to the digital economy. On one hand, the virtual networks offer a golden opportunity of bridging the gap
between the poor and the rich by granting access to new services too costly in the real world for some remote areas. On the other hand, it also may broaden the gap if nothing is undertaken to
encompass these people as many as possible. A striking paradox !

France 2.0 02/09/2010 17:36

Fully agreed. That is why I tried to use Beaudelaire's remarquable example of how children can teach us fraternity, as a way to bridge this widening gap.


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