Introduction to Information Divide

From a philosophical point of view Data can be defined as things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation. From a computer science perspective Information by itself is nothing but data (1s and 0s) that is processed, organised, stored, or transmitted.

In communication studies, forms of information can be classified as graphical or textual information – written or verbal. Different forms of information can be transferred or communicated via mediums including (but not restricted to) television, radio, newspapers, books and the Internet.

Information communicated can be quantitatively assessed by measuring attributes such as rate of information dissemination and amount of information accessed.

Information communicated can also be qualitatively assessed when data sets contain attributes such as bias or no bias, accuracy or no inaccuracy, credibility or no credibility, complete or incomplete and censored or uncensored.

For instance, the attributes to measure quality and quantity of information disseminated or accessed via the Internet include number of cell phone towers, speed of internet, download/upload limit, number of literate users, legal restrictions on bloggers, amount of government censorship on content or blocked links and so on.

Knowledge can be created by an individual or society with quality information and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

The knowledge gap theory suggests that knowledge, like other forms of wealth, is often deferentially distributed throughout a social system (REF?). Thus the quality of information consumed by a individuals/sections in a society can also partially determine how knowledge is distributed in amidst the society.

For the purposes of this thesis; Information divide (or information poverty) can be defined as groups and individuals having inadequate and/or unequal access to the same quantity and of quality information as others.

In this research I hypothesise that an information divide can be artificially created within society when:
• information dissemination via a medium is controlled,
• medium of information access is restricted and/or
• information seeking behaviour is punished.

An in-depth historical analysis from an ‘information divide’ perspective; on how sections of societies have been divided or manipulated by controlled information systems for thousands of years of known and recorded human history across multiple different cultures – will help us gather a comprehensive understanding of how quality and quantity of information communicated affects society.

In depth research on the subject of information divide will help us understand how to break power structures, reduce wars and bridge the socio-economic gaps which are created in between sections of people where information divide exists.

Responsible design of information systems can help our society transcend towards to a knowledge-era for all instead of an information-era for a few.

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