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        Within Countries

        Even within the more advanced nations, there are also regions and parts of the population for which the availability of technology is ‘backward’. To claim that the whole of the US is ‘hooked up’ in e-space, for example, is a sweeping statement. One has just to look at the small towns and ghettoes where even a telephone line and a reliable source of electricity are not taken for granted. For the general population, the larger picture is that today, Internet access remains the domain of the more well-endowed segments of society, i.e. those who have the economic ability to afford a computer with an Internet subscription, as well as the intellectual ability and opportunity defined above. Although prices of computers are lower nowadays, subscribing to the Internet is at an additional and substantial cost, and there are many members of society for whom it is a dream. The ability to use the computer and navigate through e-space effectively is also dependent upon acquiring a basic working knowledge of the functions. Those who have the chance to use e-space at work (usually with free accounts) are mainly those who are involved in higher-level professions. Also, it is only in tertiary institutions that facilities like computer laboratories are readily available. What all these mean, then, is that e-space is mainly the preserve of the financially well-off and better-educated portions of the population. As Browning (1996: 33) found from surveys of Internet users, ‘over two-thirds had at least a university degree; and the average incomes, in both the USA and the UK, were well above average’ (in Loader: 62). The poor, the elderly, and the less-educated, are the ones who are most deprived of the benefits of access to e-space.

        This is not helped by limited public access to computers. Of the small number of computers in public areas, most of them are found in libraries and cybercafes, and used for very limited purposes. In Singapore itself, for example, most of the resources available at the National Libraries are devoted to ‘search’ facilities like the OPAC. Cybercafes providing Internet access are not numerous, and those that exist are mainly used for games purposes rather than for activities in e-space. Thus, outside of the home, it is only in the domain of educational institutions and workplaces that there is reasonable access to computers.

Another Issue - Gender-based Access
Previous Page

Introduction/ What is meant by 'access'?     Global Scale - Across Countries

Within Countries     Another Issue - Gender-based Access

 What has been done about the problems?      Conclusion