In The Heart of Tech, a Persistent Digital Divide

In the article, “In The Heart of Tech, a Persistent Digital Divide,” the author, Peter Snarr, examines the paradox that is the digital divide in San Francisco, California. Despite being a hub for technology companies and technological development in general, many of the city’s residents still do not have internet access. According to Snarr, the 100,000 residents in San Francisco without internet access belong to a few distinct categories: low income, non-white, and/or aged over 65 (para. 6). His argument is that a lack of internet access puts these people at a disadvantage in multiple areas, exacerbating existing inequality. Snarr notes the modern necessity in using the internet to find careers, complete school work, conduct business, and simply “enjoy affordable entertainment” (para. 14). He incorporates specific interview commentary to strengthen his viewpoint; according to Kari Griffiths, the executive director of the Community Technology Network, students often “stand outside coffeehouses to get the free Wi-Fi” because they do not have access at home (para. 8).

The author goes on to discusses San Francisco’s attempts at alleviating the issue: creating online access at libraries, schools, providing “hot spots” in city parks, and Comcast’s new internet offering for $9.95 a month (if 1 child in that household is on the National School Lunch Program) (para. 13). However, despite the efforts, the city and internet providers continue to fall short in the interviewee’s eyes. Starr proceeds to encourage the reader (and the government, and internet providers) to consider future problems. Access at public facilities “does not solve the needs of students… job-seeking residents… others without affordable entertainment” who need longer than a few hours of connection (para. 14). At the end of the article, he briefly mentions the developing dilemma of speed versus internet access; no longer is internet access alone necessary, but access to internet of faster speeds. However, with faster internet speed, comes a higher price, which brings Snarr back to his initial argument. In the closing sentences, the author reports that San Francisco is considering budget changes in the future to provide internet service “to residents and business citywide for free or very low cost” using a form of public/private funding (para. 16). Time will tell.

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