The ability of people to improve their way of life, and to access opportunities and resources, can be hindered greatly by the local and national context they find themselves in. This is a key point about the digital divide that is embodied in Amartya Sen’s capabilities model, discussed in Wresch’s 2009 paper.
One of the ways that the limitations of one’s context is addressed is through migration. Over 1 billion people are part of a current global movement of seeking opportunities somewhere other then the places they were born. The implications of this are explored in the latest Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
A useful way to conceptualise the world as it is today is as a network of global pathways – both literally via migration, and virtually via the interconnectivity enabled by the World Wide Web.
This ability to virtually traverse the globe by exchanging information is unfortunately a process that is severely imbalanced.
As Wresch identified in his paper, the information that we receive about countries in the developing world tend to come from a Western perspective, rather than from the countries themselves. This obviously puts particular cultures and indeed smaller communities at a disadvantage because they are missing out on the global exchange of resources and knowledge enabled via access to technology.
If a more diverse range of local and national communities have a presence online, people will ideally feel more included in the global community. This will be beneficial not only on a symbolic level, but in a highly practical way – remote, or otherwise disadvantaged communities will be able to more readily access medical information and professional support relevant to their particular context.
In an ideal world, large-scale migration would not be as necessary if people could access the resources they need – both online and offline – to enable a secure way of life closer to home.