| Action Number: 298
The Contemporary Internet: National and cross-national comparative European studies
This book focuses on user experiences of more recent developments of the internet, specifically with the spread of broadband (itself a moving target), the audio-visual applications it has enabled, Web2.0 uptake more generally and the growth of eGovernment. In addition, it considers contemporary representations of the internet in the media.
The contemporary Internet is comparative in two senses. The first is at the cross-national level, examining factors affecting different national experiences of the internet, with a particular but not sole interest in what may be termed ‘cultural’ influences on perceptions, adoption and use. These cultural factors are explicitly addressed in the first section of the book, providing examples, summarising evidence and taking as a particular case study diverse representations of the internet in different national media. All the other chapters have a cross-national element in them at some level, whether showing different ways in which we can use this comparative approach or discussing the methodological issues associated with it.
Second, the book is comparative within countries, examining the, sometimes very, uneven experiences of the internet’s possibilities. One major debate both across countries and within them, concerns the ‘digital divide’. The terms of this debate were first set up when most people still used narrowband, and consequently used a narrower range of applications. Consequently, one question which pervades several chapters is how the digital divide is evolving in the light of the more contemporary developments outlined above. The diversity within counties is explored specifically in the second section, reflecting on the technical considerations at work, where narrowband vs. broadband differences matter, the implications of eGovernment and the spread of experiences relating to an example of Web2.0 developments: eMusic. Once again, methodological issues relating to the digital divide are considered in the final methods section.