Virtual Society?

the social science of electronic technologies


Delivering the Virtual Promise? from access to use in the virtual society


Delivering the Virtual Promise?
from access to use in the virtual society


19th June 2000

QE II Conference Centre



The growth of the new technologies continues apace, perhaps only slightly faster than continuing speculation, analysis, policy debate and argument about their likely social impact. The UK government has embraced the idea of taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the new technologies, while keeping a careful eye on possible problems of social exclusion. Prime Minister Tony Blair recently promised that everyone would have access to the Internet within the next five years. So debates about the prospects for a virtual society are more charged than ever. But there is still little clear sense of what "access" will mean. What significant differences do these technologies actually make? How do we make the transition from mere "access" to meaningful use? Social exclusion and the nature and extent of the "digital divide" continue to be a major concern.

This major one day conference debates these issues by bringing together the best research and thinking in academia with senior figures from government, policy and industry. It asks: what will access mean (and for whom) in the virtual society? What are the routes for realising the potential of the new technologies?

The conference marks the culmination of 3 years of the ESRC Virtual Society? Research Programme. Professor Manuel Castells (UC Berkeley), the world renowned author of The Information Age trilogy, is our main academic keynote speaker. We shall hear from prominent members of business and government as well as some of the key research results emerging from the Programme.


Please click on the names of the speakers to enter their pen portraits. Full presentations can be accessed as web pages  via clicking on the titles. Alternatively, click on "download"  to  download the presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint 97.


08.30 Registration and coffee

09.30 Keynote Session

10.00 Professor Manuel Castells (UC Berkeley)

10.30 Responses: 

11.00 Coffee

11.30 Session 1: Access, inclusion, digital divide


13.00 Lunch

14.00 Session 2: E-commerce/consumption


15.30 Coffee

16.00 Session 3: Virtuality in organisations, education, privacy



17.30 Summary

17.45 Reception



We are grateful for the support of the following organisations:

Citizens Online
British Computer Society (BCS)
Federation of the Electronics Industry (FEI)
Fabian Society
Forum for the Future
Sun Microsystems
Internet Society of England
Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
Department of Trade and Industry
Office of the e-Envoy


Full papers



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Contents current at 2nd August 2000