Community e-gateways: locating networks and learning for social inclusion
The provision of community e-gateways (community-based facilities providing public access to computers and the Internet) has been seen as a way to address the 'digital divide', particularly for people from deprived neighbourhoods. In the UK, policy and practitioner literature has stressed that for these centres to be successful they need to have strong social connections and be able to provide opportunities for interactive learning and content creation. Through a detailed analysis of one community e-gateway, which formed part of a wider study of public access provision, this article analyses the strengths and weaknesses of this advice drawing on broader sociological literature relating to social networks, network mapping and communities of practice. It concludes that greater attention needs to be paid to the significance of weak ties, two-way boundary spanning and the resource requirements of social networks for the policy objectives to be fully achieved.
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