In recent years the Internet has often been associated with the notions of progress, improved quality of life and greater democracy. Nonetheless, research shows that – with rare exceptions – only the apex of the social pyramid in each community is connected to the Internet, totalling a paltry 7% of the population of our planet. “Unless we ensure proper capillary penetration and are creative in introducing alternative forms of universal access, we shall be helping perpetuate inequality and violating the essential right to communicate” (Afonso, 1999). At the Electronic Arts Unit, at PUC-Rio University, we run a series of research projects on social issues: our project “Internet, illiteracy and social exclusion” focuses on the emerging actors inside, at the fringe or outside the Net society. The projects’ site shows how 120 people living in different social-economic circumstances in Rio de Janeiro perceive and understand the Internet, how it affects their lives, and its implications for their future. It also encourages users to send their opinions, images and ideas so that they become part of the site’s data bank, in a very dynamic and intriguing way. In this paper, we present and discuss the results of this project, and the advent of what we call the “net-social-diversity”.
- Rejane Spitz, Brazil, Departamento de Artes & Design, PUC-Rio, Rio de Janeiro.
Rejane Spitz is an Associate Professor at the Department of Art & Design at Rio de Janeiro Catholic University (Brazil), where she coordinates the Electronic Arts Unit. Her works have been exhibited and published in Asia, Europe, North and South America. She has worked as curator for exhibitions on Virtual Reality and Electronic Art. Since 1991 she has been the South American Representative on the ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee. From 1992-97 she represented the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts in South America, and in 1998 she has been appointed as a member of the ISEA International Advisory Committee.
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