Thursday, April 21, 2005

the bottom line about access

The common thread this week, I think, is that access to information technology will never stick without buy-in from those receiving access. Bishop et al. says: "professionals [should] work with residents to create online resources that are usable, useful, and meaningful" (386). Servon-Nelson says "a critical mass of engaged citizens" are required to keep projects alive and expanding (425). Wilhelm says that a policy emphasis needs to be on "interfaces for semi-literate users and persons with disabilities" made possible by "ascertaining community needs". And the Labaton article on yanking out e-rate money brings home the fact that policy from the top can also wreck chances for access, even if temporarily. My question would be this: if the socioeconomic groups that do not have access also do not have a strong voice during elections and in the legislatures, how is the digital divide going to get recitifed in a way that IS responsive to the under-served's needs?

On another note, a recent artcile exapnds on the Bishop study and shows Champaign-Urbana pushing forward with access initiatives. Does this town have the "critical mass" of concerned citizens that's making their project a success?

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