Thursday, December 4, 2008

Offline Youth in an Online World

In These Times:

Antonio Reyes and Julian Rosas grew up together in California’s San Fernando Valley. Now 17 and seniors in high school, the two friends are beginning to fill out college applications. Antonio wants to be a pediatrician, while Julian is considering computer engineering.

But Antonio has one distinct advantage: He has high-speed Internet access at home. Julian––whose family can’t afford a connection––can only get online at school, when one of his working parents can drive him to the library, or at a local youth center, the Youth Speak! Collective, where I met the teenagers. The collective is a nonprofit organization that works to empower “at-risk” youth.

The restricted Internet access makes doing homework and applying for colleges especially difficult for Julian.
It's easy to react to such stories indifferently. Many people my age didn't have broadband in their college years, because it simply didn't exist yet outside of T1 lines for businesses.

But as more an more organizations and businesses are taking their wares online only, or catering directly to online users (less overhead, faster/cleaner processes), access to broadband is quickly becoming as important as the public library system was for our parents.

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