Thinking about online access

Every day we build up the foundations of knowledge. We strive to learn more and more about the world. Deeping that understanding is how we ensure the foundations of our knowledge are strong. That propositional thought made me start thinking about online access to content in general. From that question, I started to wonder about reading and how it happens. One sure-fire way to enhance the foundations of knowledge is to actively engage in reading. Right now thanks in part to the advent of the internet and the near ubiquitous availability of smartphones the ability to access readable content went up exponentially. While it would be easy to focus on just the internet driven side of the access to content coin and only think about that method of amassing knowledge and learning it would not be holistic. The reason it would not be holistic is that internet driven content might be a primary method for people to access readable content; it is not the only way. Other methods of learning and digging into the broader foundations of knowledge have to be understood.  

Now that we have started to question what other methods might exist it would be a good time to acknowledge that a digital divide exists. Specifically, a digital divide does exist. That means that overall the access to readable content has gone up over time. The things we elect to do with that content is rapidly changing. We only have so much attention to spend each day and like a finite commodity it gets allocated. Reading the classic works of history is not always the obvious choice for people using the internet or people picking up something physical to read. You could look at some of the research from the Pew Research Center and start to break down how people spend their time online. The Pew Research Center “American’ Internet Access: 2000-2015” report included a determination that 84% of adult Americans use the internet. That inherently represented a digital divide of 16% of adult Americans.

That figure provides us with the opportunity to complete a basic population based calculation. Back on December 28, 2016 the Census Bureau in a press release projected the population of the United States to be around 324 million people. In this case the general number of 324 million people needs to be adjusted to reasonably reflect the adult population for this calculation. To make that adjustment an assumption is being made about the population split being approximately 25% minors compared to 75% adults as a composite that reflects the total population. For this example, that means assuming that 81 million of the 324 million people in the United States are minors and 243 million are adults. Based on the internet access split referenced above and the adjusted population number that would equate to about 38.88 million American adults that were not included in the 84% of American adults that use the internet figure from the Pew Research Center. That is a lot of people to consider

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