Questions of content and questions of access to the internet

Nicholas C. Burbules
Vol 17, Number 1, p.68
One of the major issues concerning the Internet is the question of unequal access. One way to look at this problem is as a predominantly technical question: acquiring machines, network connections, and modems to allow users the chance to get online and use the Internet for e-mail, browsing web pages, and so on. But there are deeper questions at stake as well, pertaining more to the content of the Internet and its basic character as an information/communication medium; at this level, questions of access are heavily shaped by what people find on the Internet and how they respond to it. Where these patterns of interaction with online material affect different individuals and groups in unequal ways, they may constitute an issue of access as well; a more intractable one, because it goes to the very heart of questioning what it is that we are trying to provide access to. In short, the issue of access involves quality as well as quantity of access; yet few discussions of this subject ever go beyond questions of hardware and training.