While presenting my thesis titled “Re Examining The Digital Divide In Tel Aviv – Jaffa”, as part of a panel on society and planning in modern day Israel, I was presented with three difficult questions. I was asked more than those 3 questions of course, but these rang especially true for two reasons:
- The identity of the antagonists
- The substance of their question
Professor Khamaisi “cut to the chase”, “what is” he asked “the relevance of your study to planners”? Ah, the immortal need to connect academia to the real world – a perpetual challenge. It seems to me that any critical review of a spatial phenomenon based on structural analysis helps to break down the false consciousness of neo liberal ideology. No, not all economic activity fits perfectly with an abstract ideological blueprint, and local conditions should dictate different approached to tackling the digital divide. Planners, whether municipal or national must realize that digital resource planning is about closing the gap through active government activity, while cooperating the public sector to fill in when government can’t. But yes, this means tenders, active competitive regulation and set milestones involving all segments of society in the global economy. If a government won’t do that, it simply isn’t serious about closing the digital divide. The UK, however, does seem to be on the right track as opposed to the residents of Westland, Michigan.