some good background material

Two of the most important general background papers , though not specific to Wales, would be the Futurelab report and the 2004 JRF report also (both listed in the side panel). Futurelab report especially good at describing the complexities and definitions behind the notion of ‘digital divide’ whilst maintaining that there are significant grounds for arguing that demography is destiny when it comes to predicting who will go onlineā€. However, the complexity of not only the multi-modal nature of ICT experience, but also the multi-dimensional aspects of ICT use have to be taken into account by policy makers and others – ‘bridging the gap’ in terms of hardware and software should not be the sole goal, nor is it only a matter of the usual suspects in terms of social variables. The website worth a look, and they’re a forward-thinking but realistic organisation.

Still working through the Leadbeater book, which is more about the possibilities which are perhaps only clearly emerging now, in the last couple of years – but it is actually making me glad that I’ve started this blog as a means of sharing the work eventually, possibly. He points to five different scenarios for the internet in the initial chapters, underlining the fact that we might be at a critical point in its development:

  1. For some the internet is an overblown tool, just that it allows you to do things quickly and to a larger audience – but essentially it remains a flea market (ebay) or shop (amazon)
  2. Internet might have a big impact on society, but technology should always be seen in the long view – Shock of the Old, Dave Edgerton
  3. Web is already having a big influence on society, which is mainly bad – The Cult of the Amateur (Andrew Keen), The Big Switch (Nicholas Carr), Larry Sanger (co-founder, but now critic of, Wikipedia) and Susan Greenfield. The web is an unfiltered mess which obfuticates ‘truth’ and ‘expertise’, ‘Google is making us stupid’ etc.
  4. The web mainly good for us in a libertarian way, – ‘faster, frictionless market and an abundance of free culture – Chris Sanderson,(Wired – The Long Tail – which is a great book…, but has come in for criticism in its premise) seen as chief advocate
  5. The more communitarian viewpoint, espoused by Leadbeater : ‘the possibility of community and collaboration, commons-based, peer-to- peer production, will establish non-market and non-hierarchical organisations’. Other advocates along similar lines: Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everyone), Yochai Benkler (The Wealth of Networks)

Crucial systematic review by Yu (2006) accessed through Sage.

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