Thanks to mobile phones, getting online is easier and cheaper than ever. In After Access: Inclusion, Development, and a More Mobile Internet (MIT Press,...

Thanks to mobile phones, getting online is easier and cheaper than ever. In After Access: Inclusion, Development, and a More Mobile Internet (MIT Press, 2015), Jonathan Donner challenges the optimistic narrative that mobile phone will finally close the digital divide. How we log on, how long we stay, what we choose to do, what we can do – all are shaped by our environments, resources and digital literacies. After Access examines the implications of the shift to a more mobile, more available Internet throughout the developing world. Donner addresses these implications specifically for socioeconomic development and broad-based inclusion in a global society. He offers a note of caution about the Panglossian views of mobile phones arguing that access and effective use are not the same thing, and the digital world does not run on mobile handsets alone.
Donner, a Senior Director of Research at Caribou Digital, a UK-based consultancy focused on building inclusive digital economies in the developing world. After Access draws on ethnographic and survey research in South Africa and India, as well as the burgeoning literature from the ICT4D (Internet and Communication Technologies for Development) and mobile communication communities. It introduces a conceptual framework for understanding effective use of the Internet by those whose “digital repertoires” contain exclusively mobile devices. In showing that there is no singular internet experience, Donner argues that both the potentialities and constraints of the shift to a more mobile Internet are important considerations for scholars and practitioners interested in internet use in the developing world.

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