chapter  4
26 Pages

A People’s Network: Access and the Indefiniteness of Learning

The term ‘access’ has become pervasive in popular and academic commentary,

highlighting inequities and privileges of one kind or another, moral imperatives to

eradicate exclusion in favour of inclusion in all areas of societal life, a generalized

shift from ‘ownership to access’ in a new ‘experience economy’, and the list goes

on (for example Lister 2001; Rifkin 2001; Thrift 2005). I have argued that it is a

dominant narrative of digital culture in two senses. It can refer to a democratization

or ‘flattening’ of culture, of new cultural spaces and forms which are inherently

more accessible than ever before because of the place-defying structure of digital

communication technology (Poster 2006). It also refers to new disconnections

alongside connections, to new territories and zones, and to divides between them

which need to be ‘bridged’ as select physical environments become informatized to

an unprecedented degree (Burrows and Ellison 2004; Lash 2002; Thrift 2005). In

public policy on information access, the democratizing qualities of digital culture

must be delivered to citizens by overcoming social barriers and digital divides.