This paper explores public internet access in an inner-city community with many “digital divide” characteristics. Using a qualitative methodology attentive to social, technical, and geographic contexts, the paper describes how internet access is integrated into a communicative ecology: specifically how internet access is identified by residents; what it affords; and its potential for effective use. In addition, it argues that the concept of “universal access” to internet infrastructures must be refined to consider “contextual access” that is, access provided that takes into account cultural, geographic, and demographic factors. Finally, at the level of practice, the paper recommends striking a balance between “universal” and “contextual” internet access in an urban area so that internet access becomes linked with other cultural services, and is integrated into local contexts of use
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