The room was full of people. Well all the chairs of the U-shaped conference table were occupied. And we were talking about social media. I asked one question: How many of them were using emails? No one raised their hands. COuld this be possible? In the age of Information and Social Media were there still people not connected?
In Marc Prensky’s 2001 essay Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants he talked about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants from the prespecive of Education and Information Technology. Digital Natives who were born into the age computers, video games and the Internet. While Digital Immigrants were not and as such fell into three general groups Avoiders, Relcutant Adaptors and eager adaptors. Although, one could say the three groupings can also be applied to Digital Natives as well.
While the term Digital Native and Digital Immigrant may be an easy way to group or even pigeon hole groups in relation to the Internet, it should be noted that it does not always apply. There are factors that will shape whether one is a digital native or immigrant. If one follows the condition of born into the age of COmputer, Vide Games and Internet as something that determines one is a digital native or immigrant you might find yourself confronted with paradoxes and this is because just being born or not during this time makes one a digital native. There are other facors to consider like access to technology and somewhat related to it is means to buy technology:
Does the individual have access to the Internet?
Does the indivodual have the money to buy a computer, a Internet Gadget or an Internet Device?
What about the Philippines?
Often times when you hear discussion about Information, Internet and Social Media in The Philippines , you get to hear the term Ninety or 90% of Internet users are engaged in Social Media. Oh this is quite true. In fact these 90% is heavily diversified in their use of social media and even e-commerce: They are active in Twitter, FaceBook, Blogs, Youtube and use the Internet to buy things and look for deals.
What does this mean the Internet population in the Philippines is highly diversified and heavily engaged. The friends list of someone on line is not a simple list but grouped, sub-grouped and divided even further. The lingo and jargon has also diversified, differing from group to group. The Internet group is also a population of beta users – meaning they are the pioneers in terms of trying out new technology whether it be a new social media channel or an e-commerce site. The Internet community is also engaged in crowd sourcing and social media campaigns – pointing out and even imposing social pressure and control in the battles if ideas or opinions, whether it be the latest government mistake or a perceived faux pah by the member of the Internet community. It, the Internet Community, is fast to react and to engage, which can be both good and bad at times.
This is Ninety Percent of Internet Users in The Philippines are heavily engaged.
What is often overlooked or even under mentioned in most Social Media presentations about the Philippines is that the 90 % of the Internet Users active in Social media comes from 30% or THIRTY PERCENT of the total population of the Philippines. This means only 30% of the total population is connected or online. This leaves around Seventy Percenr or 70% of the population not connected to the Internet.
This brings to another set of phrases with the word Digital. The Digital Rich and the Digital Poor: The Digital Haves and the Digital Have Nots. Those that have Internet and Internet Gadgets and those that do not: The Rich and the Poor.
It is a question of money.
Social Mobility and Internet mobility seem to be inter-twined. And the only way to break this at the moment is if one had the money. Through good fortune and work this Digital Divide is slowly being narrowed. People who find work sometimes also find access to the Intenet and Internet through the company they work for. And people whose family memebers work abroad often finds the means to bridge the gap. But sadly it is not enough to increase the Internet penetration rate in the country.
It was said that the Mobile Internet Penetration rate of the Philippines was at Five Percent or 5%. This sure looks much lower that the Thirty Percent or 30% Internet Penetration rate but it does have promise. Mainly because we are looking at Mobile Internet and it might be able to address the Digital Divide. Why?
The cost of Mobile Internet is going down.
The cost if Nobile Internet Gadgets are also going to go down.
Smart Phones are easier to handle the notebooks and tablets.
Hopefully, the above-mentioned factors woul bring about the narrowing of the Digital Divide.
What will the Philippine Internet Community look like, when the Digital Divide is filled up?
Most likely it will look like what Television is now. More Taglish and less English? Will it be one diverse conmmunity or something with a caste structure in place? A mirror of our society or not?