USA

“US Federal Government doesn’t place Bridging the Digital Divide as High Priority”

What e-content means in the US:

A: There’s no easy answer to this question; given the high number of people in the US creating content on the Internet, it runs the gamut of every subject you could imagine.
E-content in the US is merely a reflection of US culture, from a small-town kid running a blog about his high school football team to the mega-corporation publishing news and entertainment for a mass audience.

What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?

The US probably produces more online content than any country in the world. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in the sense that we have a critical mass of creative people and institutions creating important online resources for an endless variety of subjects. But it is also a curse in the sense that there’s so much information being published, it’s impossible to sort through the morass of it all.

So, only the content producers with the money and savvy to promote their content to a mass audience – usually big-name media companies – get their content disseminated at the highest levels, while a lot of high-quality content produced either by small, local entities or by noncommercial sources get lost in the mix.

Which e-content area is best developed in your country?

There’s no easy way to measure that. For each category there are probably thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of resources produced in that area. In terms of money, huge investments are made in e-entertainment, e-business, e-learning and e-government. A lot of health information is online, but much of it isn’t reliable.

Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?

The private sector has the most resources for creating content, by far. But governments at the national, state and local level are active too – pinpoint any small town on a map of the US and there’s a strong chance they have an official web site available for their community. Civil society organizations are playing a very important role in producing noncommercial and educational content, but because they lack the resources that big businesses do, they often get overlooked. Take a look at the top web sites in the US and you will see Portals, online news magazines, and entertainment resources. Apart from a few national-level noncommercial entities like PBS.org or the Library of Congress, most heavily-visited sites are commercially-oriented.

Please describe the progress of e-content development in your country.

There’s been nothing gradual about the development of e-content. Since private citizens began going online in the early to mid-90s, billions and billions of dollars have been invested in e-content. The whole ‘dotcom’ boom was what drove our economy for the latter part of the Clinton years.

Please list the major initiatives which have influenced and spurred the development of e-content in your country.

Much of it had to do with access to the Internet: as the Internet became readily available to middle-class Americans, companies jumped onto the bandwagon to capture as many ‘hits’ of these new Internet surfers as possible.

What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?

A lot of the content in America is driven by profit, which is understandable. But that means many producers will only create content that sells well to a mass audience. This means that noncommercial content, as well as content of interest to smaller audiences – ethnic minorities, small towns or rural areas, etc – often have less of a chance of getting produced. This isn’t to say that a lot of content for these communities doesn’t exist; but so many of the big content producers create content for a mass market that it’s generally rather bland and not groundbreaking.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe it in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

The US has the largest ICT infrastructure in the world. Having said that, we still suffer from a digital divide in which low-income and less-educated populations trail behind the mainstream. There is also a major digital divide when it comes to ethnic minorities, rural and remote Internet access, and the disabled. Sadly, the US federal government doesn’t place bridging the digital divide as a high priority.

Several major federal programs established during the Clinton administration are under threat. However, after releasing a recent study on ICTs in schools, US Secretary of Education Rod Paige expressed concern about the divide that exists between ICTs in schools and the home, which is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

How do you see the future of e-content development in your country? Please elaborate in detail.

TV and Internet content get the most investment, followed by radio and print. Wireless content is far behind, especially when compared to trends in other countries.

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