Eduardo Porter argues in a piece for The New York Times that technological innovation drives growth depending on how deeply embedded technology is in the things we do. The piece also addressed the question if technology is showing up everywhere, why are we seeing a widening income gap between nations?
According to the article, Internet penetration in developing countries is estimated at 4% of the penetration we see in developed countries. On the other hand, old technology like spindles achieved an equal level of penetration of use. Modern technological innovations have shown lower levels of penetration in poor or developing nations. For example, cell phones and personal computers saw a 40% and 25% penetration level, respectively, among poor or developing nations.
I think that question could be easily posed domestically given the widening wealth gap between minorities and whites in America or perhaps even locally given gaps between certain sectors of a given city.
On the surface, this may have more to do with technical or digital literacy. Cell phone usage may be more of an infrastructure (cell towers, terrain) and income issue than it is a technical know how issue. Internet adoption may also suffer from these constraints in addition to the constraint of relevance that hinders broadband adoption here in the U.S.
I would also add regarding the Internet, developed nations, which have a much more developed knowledge economy given the abundance of educational institutions, can create more supply of and demand for digital information transported via Internet infrastructure.
You need a power source or battery to push electrons over wire. You need a battery of human capital first in order to push digital knowledge over the Internet. Developing nations may need to continue working on this battery.