~ telecentres ~
All over the world, there's a movement to bring technology to local communities. They're also called Telecottages, Community Technology Centres and a range of other titles. The Telecentres I work with are small community-run operations that respond to the needs of their local community. Many of the people who staff them work on a volunteer basis, and they provide a wide range of services, training and technological support to their town.
I think that it is inevitable that the Community Telecentre movement will become an integrated international network over time, and it's encouraging that so many of them have developed spontaneously at a grass-roots level in communities all over the world. It's also encouraging that governments and aid agencies have helped to support the Centres in many places, at least until they have had a chance to become self-sustaining.
Where I live, Telecentres bring technology to communities which are physically isolated. Western Australia covers a huge area, and only a small percentage of the population lives in "the bush". Despite the Crocodile Dundee image, Australia is probably the most urbanised country in the world. Small rural towns have difficulty attracting services, and the less services available the more trouble they have keeping their population - Catch 22. The WA Telecentres Network started in 1991 and is helping to overcome some of the issues these small towns face.
If you're a Community Telecentre wanting to develop your own website, you may find my website rescue site useful. You also might want to find out more about other Telecentres around the world. I could rave on about the huge potential benefits the web can bring to communities, but I'm guessing I'd be preaching to the converted!
I am currently working on a Teleworking project workwest.net. Teleworking and Telecentres can be mutually exclusive since many Teleworkers work from home and many Telecentres do not host any Teleworkers, but there are also sound reasons for combining the two.
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