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Posts tagged digital divide

No one is writing good fiction. Except Jonathan Franzen.
May 30, 2014 | 10:25 am

jonathan franzenI'm sure you didn't need telling that. Its so blindingly obvious. But just in case you were in any doubt, here is AdviceToWriters, collecting the "Writerly Wisdom of the Ages" courtesy of Jon Winokur, laying down "Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules for Writers." What greater endorsement could there be? And break them at your peril. Your Time Magazine Great American Novelist cover could be at risk. And how do we know that no one else besides Franzen is doing it right? Well, Rule 8 of course: "It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." And...

Tinder Foundation report details minute costs, massive benefits of bridging Britain’s digital divide
March 20, 2014 | 10:32 am

tinder foundationThe UK's Tinder Foundation, "a not-for-profit social enterprise that makes good things happen with digital technology, established in December 2011," recently released a report, "A Leading Digital Nation by 2020: Calculating the cost of delivering online skills for all," that looked at "the investment needed to get everyone in the UK using the internet regularly with Basic Online Skills." And it turns out that the outlay required to upskill the UK's "11 million people still left without the basics needed to use the web in the 21st century" is comparatively minimal: £875 million ($1.45 billion) to be exact. And, as the...

Baltimore Sun op-ed on “Books and billionaires” (this means you, Bill Gates)
February 1, 2014 | 6:16 pm

Wikimedia Commons photo used under CCLibraryCity’s proposal for a national digital library endowment has just made The Baltimore Sun---complete with a personal appeal to Bill Gates to talk up the idea. Books and billionaires does have a ring to it, doesn't it? If TeleRead community members can help get the word out on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere and otherwise show support, I'll be grateful. Granted, the sums involved are large to most people, but they should not be in the least to the American elite as a group. The 400 richest Americans are together worth some $2 trillion, according to Forbes, and the total spending on...

Should public libraries give away e-book-friendly tablets to poor people? $38 tablet hints of possibilities
January 10, 2014 | 4:54 pm

NextYoung people love suitable paper books, ideally new, that they can own. Could the same idea work for econo-tablets that public libraries gave away to low-income families---with a big, fat, e-book-related icon smack in the middle of the home screens? Yes! Don’t just hand out gizmos, though. Let the tablets come with old-fashioned encouragement from public and school librarians. Technology is no panacea. Kids should be able to own paper books, too, in fact, not just gadgets. But e-book-capable tablets, especially with national digital library systems in place, could multiply the number of books matching students’ precise needs. Paper books could serve as gateways to...

Jim Duncan, Colorado Library Consortium executive director, speaks out in series on public libraries and the Digital Public Library of America
October 29, 2013 | 4:14 pm

Jim Duncan, executive director of the Colorado Library ConsortiumWhat kind of national digital library system---or systems, plural---should the U.S. create? Read Parts One and Two of a new series where Jim Duncan, executive director of the Colorado Library Consortium delves into the major issues. Is the Harvard-incubated Digital Public Library of America the solution with its “one big tent” approach for public and academic libraries? With museums even included? Or do we need intertwined but separate public and academic systems, so literacy issues, K-12 needs, related digital divide matters, and other national concerns do not fall through the cracks? Could a national digital library endowment, started mostly with philanthropic donations...

First all-digital public library system a hit in Bexar County, Texas—with hundreds of e-reader gizmos and an eager young crew to explain them
October 20, 2013 | 1:11 pm

bibliotechLast year LibraryCity.org knocked the library system in Rockford, Illinois, for planning to spend around a quarter of its $1.19-million collection budget on e-books. A third of Rockfordians were living below the poverty line in 2009 by one estimate. And yet the local library initially wanted to start out with just 50 Kindle e-readers---hardly the best solution for people too poor or technophobic to buy and use e-book devices. The local NAACP and other groups yelled foul, just as they should have. So what’s happening down in Bexar County, Texas? BiblioTech, the world’s first all-digital public library system, opened there September 14...

Need Library E-Books to Feed Your New Gadget? Here’s the Answer
January 1, 2013 | 9:15 am

If you can’t find the right library e-books for your new Kindle, Nook, iPad or other gizmo, you’re not alone. More than 100 patrons of the District of Columbia Public Library were lined up electronically today for 10 e-book copies of The Racketeer, John Grisham’s new novel about the murder of a federal judge. Some 400+ D.C. library users awaited 60 electronic copies of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the best-selling fiction title on the New York Times list. And a digital version of The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling, was not even in the catalog of the D.C. public library system. Could a well-stocked national digital library system—in...

Comcast launches low-income broadband service
September 20, 2011 | 5:52 pm

comcast_logo_270x70As we mentioned the other day, e-books can present a problem for people on the underside of the digital divide. The e-book reader is only one part of the equation; another part is affordable Internet access—and while broadband access isn’t required for downloading something the size of an e-book, it certainly makes it easier in general. Today Comcast announced the launch of a new program meant to address the one-third of the US population without broadband access. The Internet Essentials program is aimed at low-income families with children who qualify for free lunch under the federal National School Lunch...

E-books pose problem for the underside of the digital divide
September 17, 2011 | 1:39 pm

On her LiveJournal, writer Seanan McGuire makes an important point about the nature of the digital divide and how it affects paper versus e-books. People below the poverty line—which at least 15.1% of Americans are, and probably more than that since it goes by an old standard of poverty—can’t afford e-book readers, or e-books to go on them. They can afford paper books, because books are cheap. The problem is that printed books are starting to go away due to the encroachment of e-books. Writes McGuire: [E]very time a discussion of ebooks turns, seemingly inevitably,...