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partnerships:articles:insinc [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +# Social inclusion in the Information Society
 +
 +The INSINC Working Party
 +------------------------
 +
 +INSINC, the national working party on social inclusion in the
 +information society, was set up by IBM in collaboration with Community
 +Development Foundation in 1995, to examine the impact of new information
 +technology on local communities,​ and the potential for greater social
 +inclusion of people in communities within the information society.
 +
 +The working Party has used the following definition of the information
 +society as a basis for its work: a society characterised by a high level
 +of information intensity in the everyday life of most citizens and in
 +most workplaces; and by the use of common or compatible technology to
 +generate, store, manipulate and transfer information,​ for a wide range
 +of personal, social, educational and business activities.
 +
 +A socially-inclusive information society:
 +
 +-   will have ready, easy-to-use public and individual access to the
 +    communication channels without heavy dependence on private or public
 +    agencies as intermediaries
 +-   will ensure that the kinds of information which are essential for
 +    day-to- day life, for full participation in society, and for support
 +    in times of need, are easily available at no cost or at very low
 +    cost
 +-   will invest heavily in the information handling and communication
 +    skills of its citizens, raising their levels of information
 +    awareness, competence in discriminating when faced with large
 +    quantities of information,​ and ability to exploit information.
 +
 +The members of the Working Party are as follows:
 +
 +-   Chair Jo Habib, Funderfinder
 +-   ​Samantha Hellawell, IBM UK
 +-   Debby Matthews, Hastings and Rother Information Initiative
 +-   Dr Janie Percy-Smith,​ Policy Research Institute, Leeds Metropolitan
 +    University
 +-   Dr John Taylor, British Telecom
 +-   Bill Thompson, New Media Project, The Guardian
 +-   ​Secretary Kevin Harris Community Development Foundation
 +
 +60 Highbury Grove\
 + ​London N5 2AG\
 + 0171 226 5375\
 + Fax 0171 704 0313\
 + Email <​106043.1620@compuserve.com>​
 +
 +Further contributions to the work of INSINC are invited: please send
 +them to Kevin Harris at the address above.
 +
 +Interim Recommendations,​ March 1996
 +-----------------------------------
 +
 +-   The information society will not replace other social structures,
 +    but will exist alongside the present industrial capitalist system.
 +    Social exclusion is structural and disadvantaged groups will
 +    continue to exist because of combinations of difficulties. It is
 +    important to acknowledge that access to information alone will not
 +    enhance magically the prospects of any disadvantaged group; and the
 +    widespread availability of IT will not reduce significantly the
 +    present economic and social inequalities without a strategic
 +    approach and resources at local level. For certain social groups -
 +    such as single parents and their children, or casually employed
 +    people who frequently move area - there need to be vigorous
 +    community-based initiatives which provide opportunities to exploit
 +    the technology in the context of economic and social development.
 +-   The nature of community in the information society has been
 +    questioned. While many people will engage with their '​virtual
 +    community'​ on-line, this is unlikely to prevent their participation
 +    in their real communities. At the same time, information technology
 +    can enhance the nature of that participation. The technology offers
 +    opportunities for increased information sharing, for the blending of
 +    formal and informal information,​ and for a great deal of
 +    communication to take place independently of institutions which
 +    embody power. The role for policy makers is to stimulate the
 +    participative uses of the technology through a range of enabling and
 +    supportive measures.
 +-   ​Information handling skills are fundamental to the information
 +    society. Measures are needed to develop people'​s capacity to
 +    recognise information needs, and to access and exploit information.
 +    This is an issue in curriculum design and also for educators and
 +    trainers in a wide range of subjects.
 +-   ​Increasingly,​ the technology encourages creativity and
 +    experimentation. As more community-related initiatives explore the
 +    potential of the technology, the lessons and experience gained needs
 +    to be shared. We would like to see some systematic evaluation of key
 +    case studies, and a service identifying developmental initiatives in
 +    the field of community networking. This is an issue for funders and
 +    for the academic sector.
 +-   Our investigations have highlighted the importance of information as
 +    the basic currency of democracy, and there are various concerns
 +    about the provision of public information,​ and public access to the
 +    information highway. We argue that certain categories of information
 +    should be available to everyone at no cost. There is a particularly
 +    urgent need for a consensus and a clear definition of these
 +    categories. It would be appropriate for a working group to be
 +    established to address this, involving organisations such as the
 +    Society for Public Information Networks (SPIN), perhaps sponsored by
 +    the CCTA. At the same time, information providers and service
 +    providers need to pay careful attention to distinguishing between
 +    free and charged services. We also find a need for guidelines on
 +    responsibility and liability for material made available on-line.
 +-   Most people gain access to information and communication
 +    technologies through employment and / or education. If there is no
 +    action to provide other routes of access, then approaching 50% of
 +    people are likely to be excluded from the information society
 +    because they are unemployed, retired, sick, or not in education. A
 +    strategic approach, led by government and involving all sectors, is
 +    needed to explore imaginative ways of engaging new users with the
 +    technology and the information systems. While the information
 +    society is closely related to the notion of lifelong learning, we do
 +    not believe that the two will come about without addressing excluded
 +    groups strategically.
 +-   The principle of '​universal service'​ in our view needs to be
 +    reassessed and explained, taking account of the options for added
 +    value (eg access to the World Wide Web) and for access in public
 +    places. We note that the services which might be deemed appropriate
 +    for universal access are now more diverse, and may not be limited to
 +    telecommunications-based services. Central government should agree
 +    to a defined principle of universal access and adopt a policy which
 +    will fulfil it within a given period. A national working group to
 +    establish this definition should be set up, involving a wide range
 +    of interests, particularly of consumer groups.
 +-   Among community groups there is still a strong need for community
 +    development support for the adoption and use of information
 +    technology. This is an unfashionable but fundamental requirement for
 +    the information society, given that universal access to the
 +    information highway, for all individuals,​ is unlikely in the
 +    foreseeable future. Community centres, like libraries and schools,
 +    are natural locations for public access points: but community
 +    organisations need externally-funded advice and support which they
 +    can trust, if they are to begin developing their information
 +    capability and exploiting the potential of the technology. This is
 +    an issue for local authorities,​ TECs, regeneration partnership
 +    initiatives of all kinds, the academic sector, and grant-making
 +    trusts.
 +-   The information society is being built through local and regional
 +    partnership initiatives which establish networks for information
 +    transfer. We have come across a wide range of projects of this kind:
 +    typically they are led by local authorities with private sector
 +    involvement and an economic development orientation. In many cases
 +    the authenticity and openness of such partnerships is in question.
 +    It is essential that they are open to both the community and the
 +    voluntary sectors from the outset. Such partnership initiatives
 +    should establish policies which enable community groups to go
 +    on-line themselves and, in due course, to publish their own material
 +    on-line if they wish to. In addition, we are concerned at the lack
 +    of strategy in many instances: an information strategy is essential
 +    for local and regional initiatives of this kind, and should take
 +    account of all sectors contributing to the information resources of
 +    the area, in the way that the best library and information plans
 +    (LIPS) have done.
 +-   The information systems available in the information society will
 +    need to be far more friendly and easily navigated than presently is
 +    the case. We are concerned at the lack of activity in this area and
 +    the need for appropriate interfaces and navigational aids.
 +-   There is potential for the information society to strengthen and
 +    reinforce our exceptional cultural diversity. The creative
 +    opportunities of the on-line multimedia world are vast and in our
 +    view are likely to support, not erode, cultural identity. Policy
 +    makers have a crucial role to play in stimulating and enabling this
 +    development,​ not just through community arts programmes but also by
 +    integrating communication opportunities in more general educational
 +    and cultural programmes. In all areas of activity, people will have
 +    less and less interest in systems (not just IT systems) which are
 +    not interactive.
  
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