Smartphone apps favor the wealthy
When information technologies came on the scene not long ago, the pundits all chorused about how it would democratize public life, as if the new possibilities would be equally open to all. [“Find your on-street parking spot, then pay for it by phone,” NW Friday, July 19.]
However, all the new gadgets and apps are designed to promise the user a competitive edge over other people. In other words, they are meant to heighten social differences, not reduce them.
Now comes the new parking-meter app, making paying for a spot easier. However, national statistics indicate that nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t have a smartphone.
So, the wealthy and highly-educated will have an edge on simplified parking downtown. The city’s transportation people have assuaged any guilt (if they are even aware of such statistics) by providing a phone number that can be used (if the driver can memorize it and not call while the car is running, in violation of state law) or a website (which the driver can’t access without a smartphone).
Thus, liberal Seattle moves bravely into the future.
Philip Bereano, Seattle