Gateways to the virtual society: innovation for social inclusion
Dr Sonia Liff
Warwick Business School
Coventry CV4 7AL
+44 (0)1203 522656
Dr Fred Steward
Aston Business School
Dr Peter Watts
Canterbury Christ Church University College
1 November 1997 to
30 October 1999
Aims and Objectives
The information technology revolution is accompanied by concern as to whether all members of society will be participants. Fears have been expressed that traditional social inequalities may be continued, or even magnified, in the form of divisions between 'information rich' and 'information poor'. Anxieties are also voiced that familiar forms of community interaction may be displaced by indirect and individualistic communication. One response to these concerns is the recognition of a need for new provisions for social inclusion within the 'information society' and public access to the 'information superhighway'. A host of new initiatives have been taken to facilitate the use of computers and information networks through publicly accessible 'gateways' such as telecottages, cybercafes, information kiosks and community networks.
The aims and objectives are to:
The different types of gateway and their approach to social inclusion are investigated through an international review of documentary sources with a focus on the relationship between institutional innovation and policy discourse. Organisational culture and social networks are investigated through detailed empirical observation and interviews at a sample of public access gateways. These are selected to represent the main types and are located in the UK, Scandinavia and the USA.
A clearer understanding of how information technology gateways are organised, managed and used will enable their effectiveness in encouraging access and participation to be assessed. A deeper understanding of user needs and interests and routes for their expression will also result. The findings will be relevant to the broad policy perspective and to practical approaches for specific organisations.
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Contents current at 12th December 2000