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  • Mainly about engagement and collaboration using social media and events, with some asides on living in London. More about David Wilcox and also how the blog started.
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Hi David, I agree with Horace about the walking, and with Joe about the one-stop-shopping. But you haven't drawn attention to the fact that UK online centres have a very important *introductory* and awareness raising role. Some people don't have computers in their home because they don't have a (valued) use for them (Cost, phobia, skills etc come in here too). Therefore, without *supported* public access (not just communal access by itself), they are not likely to 'have a go' - at e-government or anything else - thus closing off that choice and experience to them. Secondly, some people will always see communal access as 'second best'. Others like to be social animals (for some activities at least). We can all buy our beer at the supermarket, but I haven't seen the pubs closing. (Well, only in rural areas! Hence put the UK online centre in the pub;-)

Horace Mitchell today helpfully responded on the conet list as follows to my query about quoting on lists:
My understanding of general practice is that if a list is open to all to join then each message has been published, in the same way as an article in a subscription magazine has been published. Only those who subscribe to the magazine can read the whole article in context, but anyone who reads the magazine is free to quote from articles etc within usual copyright rules, the main one being that you can quote small extracts but not whole articles. In a list context you can quote from a message or quote the whole of a message, but it would be wrong to reproduce in some other place an entire thread, without the agreement of the list owner, who is the effective 'publisher' of the list.

There are also protocols for quoting from online messages, notably that you should cite:
The source, including the relevant url (of the archive if there is one or of the joining page otherwise)
The date of the message
The author's name

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Here's an extract from Horace's earlier conet posting, November 4
I can see the role of UK Online Centres or others helping unconnected people to know about the Internet and learn how to use it, especially in those areas where less than 50% of households have Internet (the national average is now 50%). I can see how having Internet readily available at some place you already go to a lot can be helpful to people who don't have it and can't afford it at home (a day centre for example). What I can't see is to what extent 'e-Gov' services feature as an important item in either of these scenarios. I do know that the government (and those local authorities whose thinking has got this far) do have a problem justifying their investment in 'e-ifying' most services unless they can get all or most of us to switch to the e-service so they can close down the other options. But it would be sad if the community informatics movement fell into the trap of doing the government's job for them by pretending to our communities that it's better to walk to an access point rather than phoning the local authority and giving them an earful about that bedstead they still haven't collected!

If e-services are cheaper to deliver (a big if!) then it may make sense to "push" people towards them by offering better service or even a cash incentive to use that mode of delivery rather than phone or face to face. It would get people engaged online and encourage them to visit online centres which could try to entice them to broaden their online experience. But councils should bear in mind that there are many barriers (eg literacy, disability) to online use and use some of the money saved to better serve those with special needs, otherwise there is a danger of super-serving the better off who already know how to work the system.

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