The good news on the eInclusion front is that significant progress is being made towards realizing the objective of an â€œinclusive knowledge societyâ€. Following on from the Riga Ministerial Declaration in June 2006 have been a series of actions intended to put eInclusion firmly on the policy map. The recent launch of the European Commissionâ€™s â€œeInclusion: be part of itâ€ initiative, timed to coincide with the Ministerial Conference on eInclusion in Lisbon at the beginning of December 2007, will add further impetus to the policy momentum.
The bad news is that there is still a significant proportion of EU citizens -over 40%- who are not actively engaged in using ICTs. The reasons for this are complex, encompassing factors such as lack of access; cost; cultural and family circumstances and lack of motivation. One explanation is that the development and diffusion of eInclusion policy and practice has been driven primarily by established power structures and groups â€“ including government, industry and lobbyists â€“ rather than from the grass roots.
As a recent analysis of current eInclusion initiatives, carried out by the Commissionâ€™s ICT for Inclusion Unit observes: â€œe-Accessibility, digital literacy and (less so) infrastructure and access issues seem to remain the overwhelming e-Inclusion concerns. Indeed, many initiatives are supply-driven". Against this background, there is a view that industry and government simply don't listen to the userâ€™s view (or the â€˜untappedâ€™ userâ€™s view) enough.
There is a prevailing argument that so-called Web 2.0 technologies will change this situation. Social networking technologies make culture less monolithic and more diverse, allowing the user voice to be heard, and making it possible for politicians and public servantsâ€™ actions to be better scrutinised and more transparent. Moreover, emergent network-focused ICTs allow an unprecedented role for the consumer voice.
In social networking sites, people feel emotionally involved and spread the word about innovations. This is what Business Week described as "the power of us". This Utopian vision is not without its detractors. For example, Facer and Furlong refer to the pre-eminence of the â€˜cyberkid mythâ€™ â€“ the uncritical view that young people are somehow immune to problems around access to ICTs and digital literacy. In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that significant numbers of young people remain at the margins of the â€˜knowledge societyâ€™ â€“ not least because the complexity and diversity of their lives, and their roles in a â€˜technologically richâ€™ society, remain poorly understood.
The workshop themes
This workshop will explore these and other issues that lie at the heart of engaging users in the evolving knowledge society. There are three themes covered:
Theme 1: Articulating the voice of the vulnerable
This will focus on how to represent the interests and needs of vulnerable people and those on the margins in developing and delivering eInclusion policy and practice. It will cover:
- Problems and solutions in e-accessibility â€“ for example how to represent the voice of users suffering from dementia; alzheimers; mental health problems.
- Engaging the unengaged â€“ what can be done about the 40% of EU citizens who are not interested in the knowledge society?
- Beyond Bobby â€“ can the standards movement do more to promote user rights beyond setting â€˜usabilityâ€™ criteria?
Theme 2: Putting the â€˜participationâ€™ in partnerships
This will explore whether current eInclusion partnership arrangements and approaches truly reflect European diversity and citizens interests. It will cover:
- The industry perspective: how do companies involved in eInclusion build partnerships?
- Social capital and social entrepreneurship. Are current eInclusion policies too â€˜top downâ€™? Is there a case for â€˜seed fundingâ€™ aimed at providing small amounts of capital to enable individual entrepreneurs to be creative?
- What contribution are large scale community-based projects making to eInclusion?
Theme 3: User-driven technologies for eInclusion
This will focus on the potential of emerging technologies to enlarge the representation and engagement of more citizens and user groups in building the knowledge society. It will cover:
- The myth of the cyberkid â€“ are young people really the future?
- Small is beautiful â€“ the eInclusion potential of low cost solutions, including MP3 players
- From Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 â€“ does social networking democratize the web, or create more elites?
This workshop is free of charge.
Give your opinion
Cyber Junk Food