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partnerships:articles:cafes1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Using Cybercafes as a community resource
 +========================================
 +
 +\
 + [Mark Walker](mailto:​mark@scip.org.uk) \<​mark@scip.org.uk\>​ wrote this
 +article in 1997.\
 +
 +##### 
 +
 +\
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +The rapid growth in the use of the Internet has created new businesses,
 +new concepts and even new words. Amongst the new pillars of the
 +information age is the ever-increasing number of cybercafés,​ which have
 +sprung up around the country. Most offer a combination of a cosy café
 +environment,​ food, drinks and Internet access, charging by the hour to
 +users who (they hope) drop in on a regular basis.\
 +\
 + Until more public spaces such as town halls, libraries and community
 +centres are wired up, using a cybercafé is one of the few ways that
 +someone without Internet access can get on-line. But what can they offer
 +to the wider community?
 +
 +#### Working with community groups
 +
 +Jo Patterson, at Manchester'​s Cyberia Internet Café, works with a
 +variety of community groups, and sees it as an important part of
 +encouraging wider use of information technology. "We are used by a local
 +women'​s group to provide an introduction to the Internet. Many of the
 +women in the group have very specific interests, or run their own
 +businesses, so they can quickly see the benefits the 'net can offer. We
 +also provide discounted rates for unemployed people and other groups and
 +liaise with the council as part of their initiatives."​\
 +\
 + "​We work with local schools and find lots of A-level and GCSE students
 +coming in - either because they prefer the atmosphere of the café, or
 +because we've got faster access than their school. We provide training
 +services to a variety of clients, and have worked with several groups of
 +unemployed people to develop their computer skills."​\
 +\
 + ​Cybercafés provide access to the World Wide Web, but also offer e-mail
 +accounts and other services. Manchester Cyberia provides a venue for
 +corporate events, for example, which is a major source of income. The
 +need for diversity is echoed by Nikki Bayley at Brighton'​s Cybar
 +Restaurant and Café.
 +
 +#### Internet access ... and more
 +
 +"Most Cybercafé operators have recognised that Internet access alone is
 +not commercially viable,"​ she explains. "It needs to be combined with a
 +café or restaurant, as well as other services. We have a high quality
 +restaurant - voted the best in Brighton in 1996 - which is a key part of
 +our business and also provide a user-friendly venue for corporate
 +clients and services such as video-conferencing. "\
 +\
 + "​We support several community initiatives,​ including hosting regular
 +meetings by local arts and community groups. We provide support and
 +training to local organisations,​ such as Age Concern, and are looking at
 +ways that local schools can use our video-conferencing facilities. We
 +firmly believe that the technology offers something for everybody and
 +are keen to support any initiative which raises awareness of the
 +potential benefits of IT can."\
 +\
 + ​Typical users of cybercafés appear to be 15 - 35 year old men, although
 +a concerted effort is being made to attract women users and encourage
 +people of all ages to give it a try. Working with local community groups
 +could be seen as a useful marketing strategy - most cybercafés are
 +concentrating on getting first-time users through their doors and making
 +sure they want to come back for more, so this is an ideal means of
 +recruiting the kinds of people they don't normally reach.
 +
 +#### A key ingredient
 +
 +Until wider public access to the internet becomes available cybercafés
 +will remain a key ingredient in encouraging a wider understanding of the
 +benefits offered by IT. They are now beginning to appear in towns across
 +the UK and Internet access is becoming an extension of the leisure
 +industry in terms of bars and clubs. With increased familiarity will
 +come a demand for greater Internet access from all parts of the
 +community.\
 +\
 + Using your local cybercafé is agreat way to get a taste of what the
 +Internet can offer and community groups should be talking to local
 +owners about how they can help each other.
  
partnerships/articles/cafes1.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)