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The paper examines the difference between citizens’ access to information and their levels of understanding it, in relation to transparency and cognitive issues, in order to understand the issues of digital divide. Research suggests that the effects of transparency on understanding depend upon the way information is presented. Indeed, more detailed content will negatively affect understanding and this negative affect will be stronger when the information is structurally fluent.
The results of both literature review and experiments demonstrate that effects of transparency on information understanding are heavily dependent upon presentation – citizens exposed to more detailed information understand the information worse than those exposed to less detailed information. This relationship is strengthened when the information is structurally fluent.
The research results suggest that guaranteeing citizen the access to information does not necessary mean that they understand it, because of cognitive constrains, according to the cognitive load theory . Digital divide, thus, would not be overcome just because information would be provided. The paper investigates the gap between having information and understanding it, especially when the information is presented in different ways, in order to reconsider its implications for digital divide issues.