Americas Quarterly hosted its first online chat earlier today. Focusing on Brazil, the conversation addressed the underlying conditions of and possible solutions to the digital divide—the exclusion of disadvantaged and minority populations from the opportunities brought by technology. Paolo Rogério, author of The Digital Integrator in the Winter issue of AQ and founder of Brazil’s Instituto Mídia Étnica, and Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of Wired.com, were featured panelists in the discussion.
The conversation yielded several conclusions. Participants agreed on the importance of government regulation to encourage access to technology. Pontos de Cultura, a government project that promotes access to technology in rural communities, for example, is considered a great success. But LANhouses—private, informal arrangements that often function outside of legal and regulatory boundaries—provide many people with Internet access, and several groups are advocating for friendlier environments for such informal providers. Hansen proposed a study examining the growth of LANhouses as related to national GDP. Another conclusion reached was the need for education to accompany access to technology. The full discussion thread is available online.
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