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Grassroots initiated networked communities: a viable method of overcoming multiple digital inequalities within communities of locality?

Gaved, Mark and Mulholland, Paul (2004). Grassroots initiated networked communities: a viable method of overcoming multiple digital inequalities within communities of locality? In: Community Network Analysis Conference, 19 April 2004, Brighton, UK.

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The expression 'community network' has been used to describe a wide variety of networks with different aims and objectives, utilising diverse technologies, funding mechanisms, and existing for varying lifespans. This paper will focus on a specific form of community network - grassroots initiated networked communities. These are communities of locality that have developed their own Internet and /or intranet infrastructure with minimal external support. We analyse five examples of UK networked communities, and present preliminary survey results, identifying key characteristics and highlighting their approaches to achieving sustainable IT usage.
We contend that the design of many 'community networks' have been influenced by a discourse predominated by a focus on the provision of potential physical access, and as a result fail to provide an effective solution to the 'digital divide'. We argue a more complex model of multiple digital inequalities should be considered, as proposed by DiMaggio and Hargittai (2001). Our research extends this work by placing the community at the centre of action, as active participants within the process of achieving Internet connectivity, rather than as passive recipients of external interventions. Furthermore, we suggest sustainability to be an additional, critical factor when considering digital inequalities. We hypothesise that grassroots initiated networked community projects offer a viable method of overcoming multiple digital inequalities and are likely to ensure sustainable IT usage, with individuals moving online as part of an active community of locality.
Further research has commenced to analyse how the presence of social software and near-ubiquitous Internet access affects the sharing and storage of information within a community of locality. An outline of this work is presented and indications of likely future developments are offered.

Item Type: Conference Item
Academic Unit/Department: Institute of Educational Technology
Knowledge Media Institute
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Research in Computing (CRC)
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 17117
Depositing User: Wendy Hunt
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2009 15:13
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 16:48
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