Citizens, Computers, and Connectivity: A Review of Trends

Citizens, Computers, and Connectivity: A Review of Trends

Citizens, Computers, and Connectivity: A Review of Trends

Citizens, Computers, and Connectivity: A Review of Trends

Synopsis

As computer and Internet use have grown dramatically, access gaps have widened rather than narrowed in the United States. This report uses Current Population Survey data from 1997 to update trends in computers and connectivity since an earlier 1995 st

Excerpt

As each new medium of communion has emerged, “its proponents have pointed out its value not only to the owners and early users, but to the broader society as well” (Firestone and Garner, 1998, pp. v–xi). In this respect, digital communication media do not differ from their predecessors. The Clinton/Gore administration, for example, announced expectations that the Internet would serve as a vehicle to “reinvent government” and “transform society” (National Partnership for Reinventing Government, 1993). And, according to a recent National Research Council report, computing and communication technologies and associated enterprises had advanced enough by the early 1990s “to be accepted as public infrastructure” (National Research Council, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, 1997a, pp. 1–6).

Not surprisingly, the strategic plans of many government agencies assume the widespread availability of such an infrastructure. The Office of Management and Budget, for instance, expects that “75 percent of all transactions between individuals and the government—including such services as delivery of food stamps, Social Security benefits, and Medicaid information—will take place electronically” (The Benton Foundation, 1998, pp. 1–8). But are these aims realizable?

Our case studies of two agencies (see Chapters Three and Four of Sending Your Government a Message) suggest that e-mail could be used to handle individualized communications between government services and their citizen clients in ways that would potentially yield . . .

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