Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Future social exclusion?
More and more services have become available online in the past few years. Increasingly we are seeing some services that can only be used online. In the future this will be more common. In a few decades, it will be very unusual for many services to be offered in any way except online. By then, the newer generations will have grown up with the online phenomena and so the mainstream of society will not only be 'connected' but also very comfortable with the online experience. In fact many will feel less comfortable doing things any other way.
However there will always be those for whom the new technology is a struggle, or indeed something they have some personal fear or dislike of, to the extent that they abstain or otherwise exclude themselves from the services that others just use and take for granted. This is not unlike the situation that sometimes happens today. It is a minority, and sometimes they are in a disadvantaged position through little or no fault of their own, but nethertheless they are in that position. In those cases today, in western society, we usually expect the government to step in with some sort of 'safety net' provision. In future decades, when key services will be out of reach of the 'unconnected', an equivalent safety net (excuse the pun) will be required. It may be as well for governments to begin thinking about this scenario now, rather than waiting until it actually happens.