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While new communication technologies can bridge gaps between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, and haves and have-nots and can provide new ways of participating and interacting (for example, Downing, 1989; ECRL, 1999; Freire, 1969; Furlong, 1989; Greenberger & Puffer, 1989; NTIA, 1999; Pfaffenberger, Access 19 1990; Schon, Sanyal & Mitchell, 1999), they may also widen existing gaps, further blocking access to those already without access (Gillespie & Robins, 1989; Hudson, 1988; Jansen, 1989; Rubinyi, 1989; Schiller, 1996; Wresch, 1996).

It is part of a group of similar projects in other countries. 2% of those with some college used the Internet. 1%). 4% for males). A study published by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (Cooper & Shah, 2000) collected responses from a single statistically balanced panel (n ¼ 1,902) measured at two time periods (February 1999 and June 2000) drawn from respondents agreeing to participate in a large-scale lifestyles study. The overall conclusion is that ‘‘the disconnected are, in fact, disadvantaged and disenfranchised’’ (p.

That is, simply having access, independent of the quality or speed of the connection, is the crucial distinction. Given these ongoing differences in the types of people who have access to, and use, the Internet, it is unlikely that the current knowledge gaps between upper and lower socioeconomic groups will diminish. Barriers, Influences, and Consequences Clearly, there are many physical and socioeconomic barriers to equal access. Keller (1995) expands the concept of public access to the Internet beyond technical connection to a public network to include easy-to-use connections, affordable access, and useful information resources.

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