We are by now familiar with many new expressions coined in order to designate the historic transformation which many scholars have compared to the industrial revolution: new economy, information society, network society, post-industrial society, knowledge economy, e-society. All of them share a crucial feature: innovations in electronic communication technology, especially the Internet. The great opportunities offered by these technologies are, however, accompanied by new forms of inequality. The United Nations Secretary General has recently said that in developing countries "people lack many things: jobs, shelter, food, health care and drinkable water. Today, being cut off from basic telecommunications services is a hardship almost as acute as these other deprivations". Even in developed countries with high levels of material welfare, there are striking differences in access to new communication technologies. This "digital divide" is the object of many studies, debates, and policy measures, of which this book offers an exhaustive, informative overview.
Laura Sartori is a sociology researcher in the Department of Communication Studies of the University of Bologna.