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So you're too poor, or too feeble, or too indifferent to own, or have access to, a PC. Hey, check out this Internet thing and see what all the fuss is about with a free introductory offer from Her Majesty's Government.

Of course, you will need a relative or a friend or a social worker to print this article, maybe in LARGE TYPE to find this very kind offer from the British Taxpayers.

For now. The e-Envoy's office is planning a "major campaign" this Spring to promote the free introductory course to the Internet, which will run in 6,000 UK Online centres nationwide.

The great and the good and Mr. Bill Gates, who is both, are supporting the scheme mob-handed. They include: Age Concern England, Arriva Group, the BBC, BT plc, Citizens Advice, Dixons Stores Group, the National Library for the Blind, the Prince's
Trust, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft Ltd.

This is what Billg has to say: "Technology can help people realise their potential -- at work, in
school and in their communities. Everyone should have that opportunity. This initiative demonstrates great leadership and Microsoft is proud to be a partner in this effort."

That's a big pat on the back for Andrew Pinder, the e-Envoy and we guess, his boss, the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and e-Minister. She says: "We are not going to allow the digital divide to grow. The internet is for everybody."

Is it now? The UK government's great aim is to enable people to access its services online. This should drive down customer service costs, maybe low enough one day to cover the cost of setting up 6,000 UK Online centres.

But the government is finding it immensely difficult to get computer-savvy, PC-owning citizens to use its online services. So what chance, the poor, the feeble and the indifferent?

As for the Digital Divide - it can be solved easily enough. Give'em all credit cards and free mobile phones. The real Divide - crap schools, crap food, crap hospitals, crap houses - will be rather more difficult to bridge. ®

Related Link

e-Envoy press release

High performance access to file storage

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