Lately, as I’ve been researching the contemporary Digital Divide in relation to the technological/social issues in The Grapes of Wrath, I’ve been hard-pressed to figure out how to contribute to the wider academic conversation. On the one hand, I don’t want to be gratingly contrary to all of my research on the pros of Bridging the Digital Divide for the sake of having something unique to say in favor of the anti capitalistic morals of the novel. On the other hand, I’m just a little reluctant to promote the whole idea as being as hunky dory as the impression that pervades my secondary sources on the topic. I suppose the obvious solution is to make a compromise of sorts, but I wasn’t sure of what exactly until last time in my college English class at BYU, my professor Dr Burton made the useful suggestion to return to the primary text.
The Novel as a Mirror of Technology Issues Today
After skimming through the chapters of the Grapes of Wrath I thought relevant to the theme of Digital Divide, I was able to more clearly think out the link and make a connection with the Overseas Outsourcing aspect of Digital Divide. First, the Midwestern farmers were forced to leave their land by the bank because of too great a reliance on growing methods of bygone days and a loss in competitiveness with the more profitable farm technologies of tractors and dozers. Upon being replaced by technology, they invested in the technology of the automobile that had been available to the masses for a couple of decades previously but which they had never considered investing in until their circumstances necessitated adoption to adapt to the changing world.
Likewise, digital immigrants are compelled to use new technology as the vehicle to financial success in today’s employment environment where familiarity with new technologies has become mandatory to remaining employable across the globe as the Digital Divide narrows. Yet, ironically, the Joads (the main family of the Grapes of Wrath) found that their migration via the “technological vehicle to success” ultimately came to naught due to how far behind they were of everybody else who had already migrated thus suggesting a downside to digital globalization. Here the Depression era immigrants might be compared to the Indians overseas taking information technology jobs out of the US because of a willingness to work for much less than the local workforce.
Globalization of IT: Better Cooperative than Competative
To wrap up this post, here’s my thesis as it has evolved to this point: “In global efforts to close the Digital Divide, industrialized nations may be thought to be endangering their own workforce by opening up a future of potential overseas outsourcing. However, while globalization of communications technology makes for a more competitive world, the connections industrialized nations are establishing within developing nations has greater potential to foster a future of intercooperation for a more unified world.