This year Bill Gates, one of the founders of modern Information Technology applications celebrates its 31st year in business. Consider first that this company originally started out as a two-person set-up based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Consider Mircosoft today….
Head Quarters: Redmond, Washington (a firm that is a city within a city, employing thousands of employees). Sales: $36bn (2004), Profits: $8.2bn (2004). Worldwide Staff: 57,000, Founded: 1975, Bill Gates with Chief executive: Steven Ballmer

There clearly is no doubt that this organisation, regardless of any views of: accused monopolies/ market dominance – they have delivered and continue to give us power to our fingertips! Although rivals are threatening the market with cheaper bundles of software and different operating systems, Microsoft’s products are still trusted and relied on. In 31 years they have changed the landscape of Information Technology.

The Internet has also ushered massive change in the way we deliver and receive information and the way we do business. Who would have thought back in the mid 80s and early 90s that route planners, buying books online, web-cams and music downloads to portable music devices would be second knowledge to many.

However, with all this power at our discretion, do we truly know how to use it to its full potential? Do we spend more time formatting a document rather than focusing on the quality of the content we have to produce. Does this lead to inefficiencies ? More importantly have we instead created a society of those that can connect and enjoy the Internet age and those that will never get any opportunities to reap its potential returns?

The British Computer Society (BCS) has already launched a campaign to encourage people who feel intimidated by computers to get online and start experiencing the numerous benefits the Internet offers: From booking flights and accommodation to finding cheaper mortgages and home insurance. The Society’s ‘Keep Up’ campaign aims to tackle the digital divide between those who can access the internet competently and a significant minority who simply do not know how and face being excluded from our internet dominated age.

To complement the campaign, the BCS’s e-Citizen qualification will be available in colleges and training centres throughout the country to teach Internet-novices how to surf the World Wide Web, to shop, bank, book a holiday, email friends and stay safe online. i.e: The essential elements to becoming a 21st century e-Citizen. Courseware is now available to help. The BCS is giving away a ‘Keep Up’ fact sheet outlining ten ways to explore the internet safely with top tips on shopping online, banking and emailing. The BCS (UK) can be contacted on 0845 300 4417 to obtain a free copy. The course is also endorsed by the European Computer Driving License Foundation (ECDL-F)

You can buy a copy of the step-by-step approved e-Citizen course from Knowledge Hemispheres (020 8568 5757). This course is available either as a interactive, simulation based CD (£12) or in the form of a self-study guide / Manual. (£10). Education centres can also draw down government funding to support those that wish to take the course.

At least there is an understanding that the potential digital divide needs to be confronted, such initiatives can certainly help to close the gap between the haves and the have nots – both nationally and internationally.

To find out more, please click here.

Written by admin

Broadcaster, Presenter, Columnist, Political Blogger & Media Commentator

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