The digital divide

This morning when I was researching Pokemon Go, it was amazing to see that there have been approximately 47,000,000 news articles written about the online phenomenon in the last eleven days, since its limited release (initially in the United States, New Zealand and Australia on July 6 and from July 14 in the United Kingdom and Germany. Probably more countries have been added while I write this). What was even more incredible is that about 500,000 articles were added in the twenty minutes between the time I first searched for Pokemon Go and getting around to beginning this post.

Initially, the term ‘digital divide‘ was used to describe those who had access to ICT and those who did not. However, in the last few days I’m hearing much more about the people who are connected with ICT, mainly for work purposes, and their stunned reaction to the millions of people who are seemingly addicted to hunting and catching all those cute little Pokemons. Stories abound from people hiring Uber drivers to chauffeur them around to Pokemon hotspots, to paying someone else to chase Pokemons for them. I’m thinking that there’s a new digital divide happening before our eyes and morphing every day; those who play Pokemon Go and those who don’t. People who understand the phenomenon are cashing in on the sensation, driving foot traffic to retail stores, using it as a real estate selling point and theme parks holding events specifically for the initiated.

But what does this all mean for my interest groups, schools and libraries? It seems like a number of libraries have been quick to react, which is not surprising, knowing how connected libraries are to technology and user experiences these days. The State Library of New South Wales has a one-stop page for everything you need to know about the game, while the Boroondara Libraries in Melbourne have information on the whereabouts of some of the elusive little creatures. The School Library Journal has a great page with everything an information professional needs to know.

However, I’m still not sure how schools will react to this sensation, apart from banning adult gamers from accessing school grounds during school hours. I would love to hear in the comments how anyone plans to use the game in schools and how they might sell it to those in power who don’t play. Will the digital divide in your school disadvantage your students? This conversation between Joachim Cohen and Jared Wilkins gives an example as to how Pokemon Go, or the concepts behind it, might be used in schools.