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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Latina Web Content Study

  • Author(s): Salinas, Romelia
  • et al.

The Latina Web Content (LWC) study spotlights “lack of relevant content” as a vital element of the digital divide that has been overshadowed by discussions emphasizing technology and/or literacy. There are millions of documents available via the web, thus it may seem implausible to suggest that content benefiting everyone does not exist (Carvin 2000). The reality, however, is that content gaps do exist and contribute to the persistence of the digital divide (Children’s Partnership 2000; Taglang 2001; Tomas Rivera Policy Institute 2002). A significant disconnect between the life experiences of minority users and web content has been documented (Barbatsis, Camacho, and Jackson 2004; Dash 1999). The Internet often reflects the culture and interest of its principle users and content creators who are mainly upper-middle-class white males, despite the rhetoric about the declining significance of race, gender, and socioeconomic status in cyberspace (Kvasny 2002). In order to understand and address this piece of the digital divide, analysis of the nature of existing content about and for underserved communities needs to take place to identify gaps and barriers to the information (Chatman 1987; Childers and Post 1975). In other words, if the issue of lack of relevant content is to be tackled, the nature of existing content needs to be known and examined for potential inadequacies so that remedies can be proposed. The intent of the LWC study was to provide a sense of the nature of web-based content about U.S. Latinas, a community that has traditionally been underrepresented in information sources (McNutt, Queiro-Tajalli, Boland, and Campbell 2001). The “nature” of the content was explored and analyzed by examining attributes such as, type of site, language of site, topic(s), producer(s) of site, technical features, and targeted audience.

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