Less cyber, more café: Enhancing existing small businesses across the digital divide with ICTs
Type of work: Article (academic)
About 10% of the world has access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Telecenters and cyber cafés are one prevalent way to increase access. This paper suggests increasing access through currently existing, local businesses where people already gather and where proprietors already posses existing business relationships with suppliers and customers. This paper questions the prevailing emphasis on the “cyber’’ characteristics of access, e.g., computing and internet access as is currently known, and attempts to refocus the conversation by considering computing and access in the context of the “café,” e.g., as public life in the sense of Habermas, which permits an in situ evolution of relevant access. This analysis is based on extant literature and direct ethnographic research in several public places in six countries. We offer example design perspectives based on a reflection of “third places” as inspiration for appropriate innovation in the provision of computing and communications.