Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Unchecked Digital Divide Evolution Scenario

Unchecked-Digital-Divide

Social inequality exists in every society and generally categorized as Gender, Racial & Ethnic, Age and Health. These same inequalities have carried over into the online environment according to Michael J. Stern of the University of Chicago in an April article, with the exception of “Age and Health”.

But the article makes note “Those who function better in the digital realm and participate more fully in digitally mediated social life enjoy advantages over their digitally disadvantaged counterparts –a key linkage which social science is only beginning to grasp.” Stern and his colleagues observed “As the internet seamlessly integrates itself in everyday routines, forms of inequality themselves mutate.”

The study shows how “digital disparities” effect daily life; finding work, building businesses, shopping, accessing healthcare, learning and socializing. Having said that, why omit Age & Health from his list of inequalities? One can only guess the answer to that question. But Age and Health inequality are currently major online subjects of discussion.

The Digital Divide is actually an online mutation of these inequalities and though you may address it in different terms such as Digital, Gender or Generational Gap, it like most creations of technology is in a process of evolution. The question is, evolution into what? According to Internet ‘World Stats’ less than half of the world’s population is online. Those who are online tend to be comprised of the more affluent and the digital divide is widening.

During a recent asteroid-impact scare some the affluent actually chartered aircraft so they would essentially be airborne at the time of this expected impact. Is this a reaction we could expect in the future?

“In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth.” The advanced technologies of the day, their management (techies) and the beneficiaries reside on the space station. While the rest of society (not-as-techie) reside on earth. Elysium Trailer

After reading about Stern’s article the Elysium storyline reads like a possible unchecked Digital Divide Evolution scenario, doesn’t it?

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Health-Care Control is Evolving to the Patient

Doctors-to-Patients

New tools are shifting health-care control from doctors to patients and these tools are in or attach to your smartphone. Smartphones have changed almost every aspect of our everyday lives and healthcare is next. You, the patient, are about to take center stage through the application of digital technologies, cloud computing and machine learning.

This increasingly powerful set of tools can diagnose an ear infection, track heart rhythms, monitor mental health and basically reduce our use of doctors, cut costs, speed up the pace of care and give more control to patients. Mind you, there’s absolutely no substitution for a doctor but the relationship a patient has with them is changing.

Obviously there are challenges of security, device accuracy & failure rates not to mention the erosion of the doctor patient relationship but this evolution is inevitable (and resistance is futile).

Oh, you have a rash! Snap a smartphone picture and process it with an app. Within minutes an algorithm can text you a diagnosis. The text could also suggest the next steps, such as recommending a topical ointment or visiting a dermatologist for further assessment. ECG apps have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for consumers and validated in many clinical studies. A smartphone can not only record the data; it can interpret it.

Much of medicines diagnostic and monitoring aspects are beginning to shift from physicians to patient and the doctor visit will become treatment, guidance and the human touch of empathy & advice. Anywhere you can get a mobile signal, you can get data-driven medicine. Patients won’t just be empowered; they’ll be emancipated.

Read Article (Eric J Topol | wsj.com | 01/09/2015)

Challenges to this evolution are addressable just as challenges to learning how to use new technology are addressable and both will require your support.

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World’s Fastest Autofocus – The Power of Speed

Sony-A6000

When Sony introduced the NEX-6 camera in the fall of 2012 it was a departure from its usual lineup of mirrorless cameras, aiming to offer an accessible camera with a strong feature set for photographers. To that end the NEX-6 brought 2 things not on any Sony mirrorless camera’s; an exposure mode dial & and ISO-standard hot shoe. The A6000 offers a similar feature set, but adds a number of significant features including updated resolution, processor and hybrid AF system.

Where the NEX-6 had 99 phase-detect point covering about 50% of the sensor, the A6000 has 179, with 92% coverage. Combining this with the new Bionz X processor allows the camera to shoot continuously at 11 fps with subject tracking. With these major updates, cost cutting measures still seem to have worked: the A6000 is priced at $649, $100 lower than the NEX-6’s launch price. Video

  • 24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Bionz X image processor
  • Hybrid AF system with 25 contrast-detect and 179 phase-detect points
  • Built-in flash + Multi-Interface Shoe
  • 11 fps continuous shooting with subject-tracking
  • 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,600 dots
  • OLED electronic viewfinder with 1.44M dots
  • Diffraction correction, area-specific noise reduction, and detail reproduction technology
  • Full HD video recording at 1080/60p and 24p; clean HDMI output
  • Wi-Fi with NFC capability and downloadable apps

Read Article (name | domain | 06/05/2015)

Whether professional or amateur, it’s time to realize all high tech devices of tomorrow will require assistance when learning to use them (as if it doesn’t now).

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Addressing Digital Divide at The White House

Addressing-Digital-Divide

Chuck Wallace is an associate professor of computer science in the Michigan Technological University College of Sciences and Arts. He’s all about breaking down barriers of learning and because of his success was able to present his work at the White House Conference on Aging.

He says bringing down barriers is just the beginning. “We’re helping people learn how to learn and how to learn with each other,” he says the way he teaches is akin to the “teaching a man to fish” adage. His approach to Breaking Digital Barriers is a collaborative effort in computer science, cognitive & learning sciences and humanities.

Working with 5-10 tutors, all faculty and students at Michigan Tech, they help senior citizens at weekly sessions to handle the digital world.

We’ll age out of the technology gap” is an unspoken belief about efforts to help seniors overcome technology barriers. Dustin Block (MLive) said “I may have felt the same until talking with Michigan Professor Charles Wallace.”

Older people encountering technology for the 1st time can be intimidating & frightening, so Wallace created a class to help technophobes overcome that trepidation. “Our interest is in building digital literacy in people that are underserved, we pair up students from Tech with people who come to learn.”

Read Article (Staff | sites.google.com | 07/2015)

Digital Literacy is a challenge for millions in the U.S. and senior citizens only account for about one-third of them. In other words society cannot “age out of the technology gap”, it must be addressed and done so effectively.

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Bridging the Technology Gap with Our Elders

Bridging-the-Gap

Do your parents take 3 hours to get past the login screen? When they hear you talking to Siri do they look at you like you’ve lost your mind? Even today it’s not surprising that some of our parents look at technology like it’s some strange disease they could contract.

Unfortunately it’s far too common that many our proud aging parents experience a “learning gap” about smartphones, computers, internet and all this tech stuff. This issue has a number of contributing factors which includes a fear of the unknown and the challenges of an aging brain that did not grow-up with “puters” or smartphones.

With a clear understanding that avoiding computers & mobile devices actually undermines enjoyment of the “good 21st century life”, the author conducts an online search to discovery ways to “help aging parents learn new technology.”

He discovers there are many free programs that can help older adults bridge the gap, such as Eldy. Programs such as this also help to reduce the chance of their deleting desirable items or forgetting how to access email.

Read Article (Staff | parentingourparents.org | 01/15/2015)

As the author discovered, there are many different teaching tools available to seniors & non-techies but what’s available locally will depend on where you live. Many communities now offer technology classes for young & older adults and some are free. A starting point would be to contact your local library, senior center, college or university, or local stores that sell computers. You can also contact your local area ‘Agency on Aging’ thru the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116.

To further assist this search, here is a post written specifically on this subject: Senior Sources. Hopefully it provides usable information for those who embark on this particular quest.

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