This article – on a blog with the fascinating title of “the unruly darlings of public sociology” – refers to a recent study that highlights how inequality can hide under a layer of apparent similarity:
In a survey of college students at a large, midwestern university, we find near-universal ownership of cell phones and laptops. That said, we also find big gaps in the quality and reliability of the technology students own.
Always concerned with inequality, this is truly interesting for sociologists. But it also has significance for designers: while apparently (most) everybody has digital devices, the different level of their performance or features are yet another dimension of technology non-use.
In the article, the suggested mitigation strategies are on a policy and communications level. For designers, the consequence of this kind of insight should be to never consider that everybody can use a digital service or artifact to the fullest extend, simply because it appears that “everybody has a device”.