In an age where digital information is the norm and the most widely used search engine has taken on a verb form (as in, “I don’t know the answer to that–I’ll Google it”), it’s hard to believe that the wealth of knowledge found on the world wide web could actually be a handicap for people. But according to the below article by Jeremy Kuper of European news publication the Guardian, that is exactly what’s happening. Read on…
“England is a divided country when it comes to housing – between homeowners who benefited from rising house values and the tenants who have paid the price. And now a new digital divide is emerging between those who are able to empower themselves by researching their housing issues online and those who can’t.
The digitally excluded are also likely to be those most in need, people at the sharp end of the private rented sector. These are the overcrowded families cutting back on food to pay their rent, or staying for weeks in B&Bs, and the new underclass of tenants living in super-sheds, or even walk-in freezers.
As a writer working in the housing sector, I face the challenge of providing online advice in plain English. This content needs to be accessible to as many people as possible, but it can’t be so oversimplified that it might misinform people about what are sometimes complex issues of housing law. It must also be tailored to fit individual scenarios.
A range of websites offer housing advice on a myriad of different issues, from housing rights for pregnant women and homelessness, to government support for homeowners and the grounds for possession. Some sites receive millions of unique users every year and rising, which shows that growing numbers of people are aware that housing advice is available online.”
Such an interesting article. Authorities and organizations put the information online, it seems, and then walk away from it believing that it’s accessible to everybody, but that’s simply not the case. I would hope that for the people who don’t have internet access in their homes, they would utilize the public library, or friends’ or family’s computers. I would hate to think that the wealth of knowledge online is considered a handicap to some, but I do agree that there should still be “in person” sources to go to for families with trouble, and not simply a computer screen.