Steve Rubel talked about the New Digital Divide a long time ago(http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/MicroPersuasion/~3/65173015/americas_new_di.html.) 75% of online users have broadband, according to msnbc (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16174787/), yet most of those empowered people are “passive” users of the Internet. 35% of Americans post photos online and only eight percent have published a blog.
This reminded me of something one of my literature teachers in high school used to illustrate how we know what we know about people who lived in times past.
How is history recorded? Think back to the middle ages or even some hundred years later. How do we know anything about this time? From artifacts that survived. From documents that survived. Who produced those documents? Probably the top 1% of the population at the time, who were wealthy enough and powerful enough to be educated enough to write and had money to spend on producing documents. So history is necessarily skewed in a certain way. We can’t possibly know exactly what the general population was thinking and experiencing. We only know about the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Now the potential is there. Publishing your thoughts is as easy as going to the library, opening a free blogging account at one of the many blog hosting companies, and starting to write. You can be more sophisticated and buy your own domain name, have your own computer to do the writing on, or perhaps even hosting your own server on your high-speed Internet connection at home. But it’s not necessary.
We have the potential of learning about the bottom of the iceberg, and yet it seems like only few people are embracing the idea (at least according to the statistics above.)
And maybe it’s for the best. I personally have enough trouble following the thoughts recorded on about a hundred blogs, reading the newspaper, following a few TV shows (time-shifted, of course) and reading books. I couldn’t possibly be a productive person at work if I were to do any more, and even with my current load I feel a bit overwhelmed. The trick is picking the right mix of “tip of the iceberg” material.