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Knowledge is power. And the lack of knowledge means a lack of power. An interesting view of this relationship is addressed in the knowledge gap hypothesis. This hypothesis refers to the difference in knowledge between one group and another and the influence of the media in widening this gap (Tichenor, Donohue, & Olien, 1970; Viswanath et al., 1993; Viswanath & Finnegan, 1995; Mastin, 1998; Grabe, Lang, Zhou, & Bolls, 2000).
Knowledge, however, is expensive and not everyone has equal access to it. This is especially true as we live more of our lives in cyberspace. The new communication technologiescomputers, CD ROMS, the Internet, satellite and cable television, for exampleare major ways for gaining information. The better educated have the money to own and the skills to master the new technologies and thus acquire more information. The less educated dont have the money to own or the skills to master the new technologies and thus cannot as easily acquire more information, creating and expanding the knowledge gap, the digital divide (Severin & Tankard, 2001). A particularly clear example of this is seen in the educational level of Internet users (UCLA Internet Report, 2000):
You can also see the knowledge gap when you compare cultures. Developed countries, for example, have the new technologies in their schools and offices and many people can afford to buy their own computers and satellite systems. Access to the new technologies helps these countries develop even further. Undeveloped countries, with little or no access to such technologies, cannot experience the same gain in knowledge and information as those who have this technological access.