Blog Post

What trying to bake cakes for YouTube taught me about life, the internet, and the digital divide!!

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What Does this have to do with Cake

I decided that I would bake to make money on the side. Actually what I decided to do was make videos of me making cakes and post them on the internet in order to make money. Essentially, cakes would be my side hustle, which the term is given to any route you pursue to making money in addition to your regular nine to five. I came to this conclusion after reading books on wealth building and hearing the stories that came from the resent government shutdown. The book mentioned that the way to get out of poverty was to create multiple streams of income, which people most often did by utilizing some skill and pairing it with some kind of technology. Since everyone loves cakes and there was always a celebration to be had making videos and cakes on youtube sounded like the perfect “side hustle”. I also had a friend that thought this was a good idea as well. He lived in the middle of a big city, I lived in a little town. Through this experience, this is what I learned, or rather this is what cake and the internet taught me about the digital divide in America. The divide that described the levels of inequality that comes with having access to the internet and knowing how to use it to your advantage socially, economically, and democratically.

 

  The conclusion to my endeavor was that my friend now gets a monthly check from YouTube because he generated enough followers to his page and he now makes additional money from the commission he gets when people click on ads and buy stuff from other pages. I, in addition to my first job, fund myself working as a bartender who worked a bakery job on the weekends to make extra money. I eventually enrolled in a community college pursuing a degree in computer science. I eventually realized that in order to keep up with the job market I had to learn a lot of new skills and get a lot more experience.

Layers of the Cake

The first problem I had to confront was living in the area that I did. Like many of my neighbors, and about 23 million individuals who live in rural America I did not have access to any or actually reliable internet service.

While neither of us had wifi available to us in our homes we did both have cell phones. We both had phones but his phone was not only better because it was an iPhone but he also had access to the internet that was very much faster than anything I could get access to. Having access to fast internet was definitely a plus for him, without it I had to put in a lot of extra effort to do the things he did. He would go to the local McDonalds to edit his youtube video’s or even to Walmart when he had the time. He also had a laptop that he received through his school's program. In fact, there are many programs that exist to help, but many do not know about them. I edited my video’s on my phone to the best of my abilities. The internet was ok on a good day. Most times, it took hours for a single video to load on the computer at the school. Also, because I used a school computer there was a lot of application that I could not download because the school has it’s restrictions as well.  I could not store more than one video on my phone at a time because my phone storage data was too low to hold more than that.

Help, I'm trying

Another problem I faced was not having anyone around to give me any pointers. I lived with my grandparents who did not use much technology, to begin with. The high school I was attending at the time did not have nearly as much advanced technology as my friends did. He would do his homework on the laptop that was given to him by the school. I lacked people around me that could mentor me, or point me in the right direction. I also later found out that my friend's uncle worked for Microsoft. His uncle gave him a microphone and told him about a lot of software, and apps that helped him create great content for his video’s. Also, I realized that his video’s had effects that mines did not, his audio was better, and he got his uncle to teach him to edit. Having access to certain technology did not equip me with the knowledge of how to use it to its full potential. Most of what I learned, I learned from youtube video’s or asking my friend questions. His mother also worked for the school system in his surrounding area and enrolled him in a program at the public library. So, once a week he would go to the library and he would learn about the ends and outs of computers and much more. The information was so valuable that he also decided to take a coding class later that year. Soon he was explaining to me things that I did not understand at all or had not even come across on youtube.

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Now that everything is over and I have time to reflect on how everything went I noticed something that I had not before. He had way more time on his hands than I did and access to way more knowledge than I did.  Between having to finish my homework while at school because there was not any wifi at my house, the long waits to load things, and the hours I spent trying to learn things from youtube video’s I still could not keep up with his progress. I had to get a job in order to afford to buy the technology to improve the quality of my video’s. The microphones, the laptop (to hold more memory and software), and buying a better phone, then buying a camera as well. I eventually was spending a lot of time working in order to pay for all the equipment I needed to create good content. Also, it seemed like every time I made enough money to buy a piece of technology there was always some faster, better version to come out a few months later. It was infuriating, to know I was trying so hard and still behind somehow.

In the end, you learn

As I mentioned before, I ended up working at a bakery as my second job and my friends youtube channel now makes him about $300 in addition to the job he got landed coding for a local business. My grandmother’s recipes are a big hit at the bakery. She was the person that got my he job there because she used to babysit the owner's daughter. That was a great weekend job and I learned a lot more about cake and pastries than I ever had from youtube. I also got a job as the janitor of the high school I used to attend. At first, I only took the job to make more money, but between the two jobs, I made a decent living. That was until someone from the high school saw my video’s on youtube and convinced me to go to college. Now I'm in community college taking courses on computer science and working at a bakery on the side. I now know that knowledge is something that is misssing from my community as a whole and that I have to keep up with technology in order to keep up with the rest of the world. 

 

This is what I learned, or rather this is what cake and the internet taught me about what is known as the digital divide. The 7 lessons I learned...

  • If you do not have access to good internet then you will always lag behind your friends

  • You don’t know what you don’t know. This means that there was a lot of technology that exists that can assist you and make things much easier. You just have to know that they exist

  • You need money, time, and creativity to make money online.

  • Sometimes it’ about who you know and what they know. My grandparents could not teach me about technology because they did not know about it other than the television, news, and how to pay bills online.

  • The use of technology gives you access to making money in ways that not having it can’t

  • Many jobs require a skill set that you don't have if you did not use a lot of technology growing up

  • Where you stay and what you have access to matters

Additional Information

The digital divide is studied on three levels.

Level One- Access to the internet

Level Two-The range and quality of internet use

Level Three- The ability to use the internet to create favorable outcomes for yourself

 

 

 

 

Reference

Strover, S. (2014). The US Digital Divide: A Call for a New Philosophy. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 31(2), 114–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2014.922207

Van Deursen, A. J. A. M., & van Dijk, J. A. G. M. (2019). The first-level digital divide shifts from inequalities in physical access to inequalities in material access. New Media & Society, 21(2), 354–375. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818797082

Eastin, M. S., Cicchirillo, V., & Mabry, A. (2015). Extending the Digital Divide Conversation: Examining the Knowledge Gap Through Media Expectancies. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(3), 416–437. https://doi.org/10.1080/08838151.2015.1054994

Luyt, B. (2004). Who benefits from the digital divide?. First Monday, 9(8). doi:https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v9i8.1166

Shaw, A., & Hargittai, E. (2018). The Pipeline of Online Participation Inequalities: The Case of Wikipedia Editing. Journal of Communication68(1), 143–168. https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqx003

Caumont, A., & Caumont, A. (2014, February 07). Who's not online? 5 factors tied to the digital divide. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/11/08/whos-not-online-5-factor...

2018 Broadband Deployment Report. (2018, February 05). Retrieved from https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/...

  Technology Overuse May Be the New Digital Divide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-10-23/technology...

 

 

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