May 24, 2022

Conference Paper: “Your Phone Has Internet – Why are You at a Library PC? Re-Imagining Public Access for the Mobile Internet Era”

The following paper (PREPRINT) was recently made available by Microsoft Research and will be presented at the Interact 2013 conference this week in Cape Town, South Africa.


Your phone has internet – why are you at a library PC? Re-imagining public access for the mobile internet era


Jonathan Donner
Microsoft Research India 

Marion Walton
The Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town 


Microsoft Research

Will Be Published In: Interact: 14th IFIP TC13 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (Springer)


This study focuses on teenage users of public internet access venues (PAVs) in low-income neighborhoods of Cape Town. It documents their cultivation of detailed ICT repertoires to make the most of available ICTs. It highlights the continuing importance of PAVs as supplements for poorly equipped  schools and reveals the incompleteness of any supposed transition to mobile only internet use. While the mobile internet is opening up opportunities for young people, its current form still conflicts with the easy (global) rhetoric of a closing digital divide and the end of the PAV. We recommend policy and design actions (effecting rules, training, messaging, functionality, and Wi-Fi) to reconfigure PAVs to be more useful “in the age of the mobile internet”. Though some actions require support from policymakers, this is fruitful ground for designers and technologists. We identify steps that can be undertaken immediately, rather than waiting for future device convergence or lower tariffs.

Direct to Full Text Article (18 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.