Social Inclusion via Technology

A central premise is that, in today’s society, the ability to access, adapt, and create knowledge using information and communication technologies is critical to social inclusion. This focus on social inclusion shifts the discussion of the “digital divide” from gaps to be overcome by providing equipment to social development challenges to be addressed through the effective integration of technology into communities, institutions, and societies. What is most important is not so much the physical availability of computers and the Internet but rather people’s ability to make use of those technologies to engage in meaningful social practices.

People need the language, literacy, and computer skills to use the equipment; there need to be plans for maintaining equipment; and there needs to be an understanding of how use of the equipment may help address a social problem. An approach is that of “community informatics,” in which a community makes careful plans for its own community and social development and works together to define and plan the role that technology and media can play to contribute to that.