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Proles told to get online to save economy

Or we'll ruin EastEnders

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Having recently been given her very own digi-quango, dotcom ingenue Martha Lane-Fox has taken to airwaves and newspapers to berate the public for not using the internet enough.

The web-travel-agent-turned-biznovation-wonk is appalled there are ten million Brits who have never used the internet, according to her staff's research. She wants to nudge the poorest four million online by 2012.

Lane-Fox - once voted "Britain's most overrated businessperson" - was appointed Gordon Brown's "Digital Champion" earlier this year, with her own "Digital Inclusion Task Force". She quickly concluded that anybody who doesn't use the internet will soon be a non-person.

Today she added some topspin to the attack, claiming that enormous economic benefits would be had by all if refuseniks would just fall into line. A report she commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates at least £22.6bn would be generated in the economy by her brand of digital social engineering.

Part of Lane-Fox's policy solution to this shocking state of affairs is to press ITV and the BBC to include web evangelist propaganda in soap operas (that's how the proles spend their time, right?).

"I've been lobbying both the BBC and ITV to say one of the most dramatic things that I think we could do would be to have a proper storyline about technology in public consciousness. I'd love a storyline in EastEnders or Coronation Street," she said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian*.

Apparently, "the jury is still out" on whether an exciting plot involving Peggy Mitchell's problems obtaining a broadband MAC promptly will appear.

But why stop there, Martha? How about a Digital Inclusion week on X Factor, with the fame-hungry contestants mentored by Clive Sinclair and forced to perform Kraftwerk songs (that actually might be quite good). Meanwhile the Beeb could dose up Brucie for an online round of Dance Dance Revolution on Strictly.

Lane-Fox's other measure to address the perceived problem that some people have never used the internet is, er, a website. It's here, or rather it's "coming soon". ®

*Also exclusively given to the BBC. And The Telegraph. And Brand Republic.

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