Engaging with the Information Age: Questioning the Notion of a ‘Digital Underclass’
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The champions of community involvement in ICT across the UK took a great deal of their inspiration from the community networking movement which was established in the United States. A major source of advice for anyone interested in developing community ICT projects in Britain was the organisation Communities Online. As their website61 explains, this body consisted of a network of individuals and organisations from across the UK involved in building online communities and encouraging Internet connections within existing communities. This network came about a result of a ‘Communities Online’ seminar hosted by the community affairs department of British Telecom (BT) in 1995. As a result, one of the organisations involved, Partnerships for Tomorrow, or P4T, agreed to host a Communities Online website, with bulletin board and mailing list (using email), to publish a guide to their work and to continue to host face-to-face meetings and events. This became the Communities Online Forum website which, while initially hosted on BT servers, later established itself as an independent site in its own right. Members of this forum focused on the development of place-based online communities, providing interested organisations with networks of people and resources which could help newly forming online communities which were, in the main, already rooted in different localities.
KeywordsBlack Hole Social Exclusion Community Online Information Society Digital City
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