Information Inequality and Network Externalities: A
Comparative Study of the Diffusion of Television and the Internet
Working Paper #31, Fall 2003
Paul DiMaggio and Joseph Cohen
This paper sheds light on whether intergroup inequality in
Internet access is likely to persist as the diffusion process
continues. To what extent is a given level of inequality in
technology diffusion (e.g., use of the Internet) a long-term
policy challenge or a temporary inconvenience? What general
factors account for group-specific patterns of technology
adoption? This paper draws on notions of network externalities to
help answer this question. It also presents findings from a
comparative analysis of household adoption of television from 1948
to 1957 and the Internet from 1994 to 2002.
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