A few days ago, I mentioned an upcoming Internet Town Hall, sponsored by InternetforEveryone.org, that will be addressing the problems of disparities in internet access among residents of North Carolina. Now, thanks to an article on Alternet, I’ve had a chance to check out “Five Days on the Digital Dirt Road,” a series of documentary shorts featuring a number of North Carolina residents who have been affected by a lack of access to high-speed broadband internet access.
The first such story, told by Rhonda Locklear, who lives just a few short miles from Fayetteville in Hoke County, was especially resonant for me, in part because she is geographically close but also because she describes the ways in which having dial-up access at home makes it much more difficult for her children to complete homework assignments. Work that can be completed quickly for those of us with broadband can take hours for people with dial-up. Combine that with Robeson County’s disproportionately high unemployment rate, thanks to the closure of several nearby textile mills, and a number of Hoke County residents, many of whom are members of the Lumbee Tribe, face major challenges in conducting business or completing an education, to name two tasks that others might take for granted.
Others, such as Jay Foushee, describe the difficulties they face in keeping open a family farm while using dial-up internet. But all of the stories illustrate the potential of short-form digital documentary in depicting the challenges faced by a number of North Carolina residents in navigating the digital divide.