Last week The New York Times ended its TimesSelect subscription program in favor of providing free access to all its current issues and archives back to 1987. This is a positive development for readers and the Times alike. Now bloggers and other journalists can link to this key new source without sending their readers to a page that can only be read with a paid subscription.
If this development had happened two weeks ago, I might not have thought much more about it than that. But since then I have had the opportunity to meet Shireen Mitchell, executive director of Digital Sisters, a non-profit that seeks to close the digital divide. In addition to a legislative and media advocacy role, Digital Sisters provides hands-on tech education and support to underserved women, crossing race, class and gender lines.
People who read CNET are by definition digitally connected, and for us, the privilege of our wired existence is naturally accompanied by a kind of blindness to the barriers of living without computer access. The problem is, if we develop social systems that assume online access, we may be unintentionally leaving other people behind. Filing a government form, applying for a driver's license, or sending in a resume electronically are only expedient conveniences if you have computer access, equipment and skills.… Read more