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Day Conference
Inclusion in the Information Society

Inclusion in the Information Society: E-Gateways as New Social Places for Cyberaccess

A day conference

16th December 1999
10.30 - 5.00

Aston University



A one day conference for policy makers and practitioners to discuss findings of a research project which looked at the role of e-gateways such as internet cafes, telecottages, community technology centres and electronic village halls in promoting public access to computers and the internet.

Providing access is much more than having equipment available for people to use. It is about motivating people to want to get involved, making them feel comfortable about doing so, helping them get started and learn more, and encouraging communication and participation to shape the information society.

The research has surveyed facilities in the UK and who uses them. This provided evidence of the scale and range of facilities. It also showed that users of e-gateways were much more representative of the population at large than are home or work users of the internet. This conference will focus on how organisations are achieving this social inclusion in the UK and elsewhere. The research in the UK involved observation of gateway organisations, interviews with those running them, questionnaires to users and non-users, and interviews with local authorities, funders and other local providers such as libraries. It shows different approaches to attracting new users and engaging them in a range of activities.

Research was also carried out in USA in the Los Angeles area and showed successful ways of working in areas of high social exclusion and innovative examples of outreach activities and support for projects. There was also a wide range of more mainstream provision with varying levels of support for users. This can give some indication of the strengths and weaknesses of the ‘kiosk’ model of access provision. Research in Finland showed that even in a country with very high internet connectivity public access is still important. It provides evidence of the strengths and weaknesses of providing that access primarily through the public sector.

The research was carried out by Sonia Liff and Peter Watts of Warwick University and Fred Steward of Aston University. For further information about the research contact Sonia Liff on 01203-522656 or by email to . For information about the conference and to reserve a place please contact Peter Watts on 01203-523854 or by email to

The research and this conference are supported by the Economic and Social Research Council under its Virtual Society? Programme.



10.30 – 11.00 Registration and welcome

11.00 – 12.30 E-gateways as innovative organisations – Different approaches to social inclusion

What do e-gateways have in common in terms of how they are organised? How do they differ? What do they offer which is different from access in libraries and colleges? How do they attract users? Is the internet used for communication, information searching, or information creation? Who doesn’t use these facilities and what might make them do so?

12.30 – 1.30   Lunch

1.30 – 3.00     Approaches to supporting learning and participation

How important is a social context to learning? The significance of learning for oneself and through trying things out rather than just being taught. Are users just consumers of commercial or government based information on the web? What ways have been found of supporting more active participation in local or global virtual communities? How are e-gateways helping people to establish and develop a virtual presence for themselves or their organisations?

3.00 – 3.30     Tea / Coffee

3.30 – 5.00     E-gateways as sustainable organisations

The shared and distinctive problems of organisations run from the voluntary sector and those run by social entrepreneurs or as small businesses. How can knowledge of how to set up and run successful organisations providing public access be shared effectively? Can e-gateways work with existing organisations like libraries to maximise their different strengths? The potential for public sector service delivery through e-gateway organisations to support sustainability. International approaches that could be adopted in the UK.



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Contents current at 30th November 1999