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Chinese Yellow Pages and the digital divide

The Plaid Bag Connection

Kristie Hang of (626) Foodettes spotted this stack of Chinese Consumer Yellow Pages (華人工商電話簿) books in California’s San Gabriel Valley.

While paper business directories like these have essentially died out in “mainstream” USA, they continue to thrive in some immigrant communities. Media stereotypes might suggest that Asian Americans are super-wired computer nerds, but many Asian immigrants and refugees face high barriers to Internet and computer use. Low-income people might not have access to the Internet or to a computer. Most computers sold in the US are set to use English as the primary language. Input methods in many Asian languages are so difficult to learn that many less-educated, low-income people may not have the time or patience to use them.

Take my parents, for example. They have a computer, an iPad, and a broadband Internet connection, but they still prefer to use these big paper directories rather than searching for…

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