Get Online Day 2009

Yesterday, the 23rd was Get Online Day (although the campaign runs from the 19th to 31 October).

Its aim is to help people who are not online to try computers and the internet at their own pace.  However, it’s not all about beginners; if you have the experience then you’re encouraged to “Pass IT on” to friends and family.  The “Pass IT on” home page has helpful resources including a fun personality test.

Locally, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson speaking at an event in Ormeau Library as part of this nationwide campaign said:

“The Delivery and Innovation Division within my Department has joined forces with the University for Industry (UFI) to run this excellent digital inclusion initiative, allowing people to step into the virtual world and discover what the internet has to offer.

This includes a series of sessions called ‘Internet Made Easy’ being held in libraries across Northern Ireland in October to offer citizens the chance to learn how to use the internet and a range of interactive services.  (Visit to find your local library)

Acknowledging the reality for many, Mr Wilson said:

“There are still many communities and individuals across Northern Ireland who feel digitally excluded. These sessions aim to help communities to overcome any barriers to technology and show residents how to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities digital technology and the Internet has to offer. For example, the new government website makes accessing government services and information easier.

In conclusion, Mr Wilson said:

“Digital technology can be used to boost individuals’ employability and to transform people’s access to learning and ICT in everyday life and work, so I would encourage citizens to get involved and take part in the Get Online campaign.”

Get Online Day has been promoted widely by the government’s digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, in various social media spaces including her twitter account.

Further Reading:

Quotes taken from:  22 October 2009 – Wilson encourages citizens to get online

Useful Resources: nidirect – Today is Get Online Day

22 October 2009 – Wilson encourages citizens to get online

Technology and internet are good for older people!

I’ve noticed a few articles appearing recently discussing the benefits of technology and the internet for older people.


“Googling is good for grandparents. Internet use can boost the brain activity of the elderly, potentially slowing or even reversing the age-related declines that can end in dementia, researchers have found.”
Web can help elderly surfers slow dementia

“Our most striking finding was that internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading.”

“Searching online may be a simple form of brain exercise that might be employed to enhance cognition in older adults.”
Moody and Small, UCLA Researchers


We all know that being online presents economic benefits such as greater choice and lower prices etc to online users, but encouraging more older people to participate could also help with ecomonic growth.

“Getting older people online and digitally enabled will empower them to reap benefits for themselves but also support finding solutions to sustainable, high quality social and health care for an ageing population. The potential business opportunities are huge, so long as market barriers can continue to be addressed and ethical dimensions are considered in full.”
Older people and technology- a social need, an economic opportunity? Dr Gail Bradbrook, Citizens Online (pdf report)

Social Inclusion

A recent Ofcom study has found that older people are continuing to embrace social networking tools such as blogging and Facebook.  These tools are providing another channel of communicate with friends and family for those who are digitally literate and confident enough to use them – a simple example of how digital participantion can help with social inclusion.

“This is good news and an encouraging trend. With social networking become such a integral part of people’s lives it is vital that certain groups in society, like older people, are not left behind.”
Jason Glynn, uSwitch: Social networking boom among older people – Ofgem

As more people, especially older people, are getting online, they are experimenting with social networking and blogging, according to regulator Ofcom. More people are using the internet to create their own content than ever before with 38% of online users having a social networking profile, compared with 22% in 2007.
Social networking booming with doubling of online profiles

IWF Awareness Day 2009

Today is the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF) third Awareness day.

The IWF works with the internet industry, law enforcement agencies and other partners to tackle illegal content on the internet.  It operates a UK Hotline where the public can report potentially illegal web content.

“In 2008, Awareness Day led to increased reporting to the Hotline and an 18% increase in awareness of the IWF amongst UK internet users. The IWF hopes to increase that this year.

Catch-up with the North West Social Media event

If you missed the North West Social Media and digital technology event over the weekend you can catch-up and get a feel for it over at the BarCamp Derry website.

By all accounts it seems to have been very good.

Economic benefits of being online

The first report from Martha Lane Fox’s Digital Inclusion Task Force has highlighted the economic benefits of being online.

They have discovered that:

  • 10 million adults in the UK have never been online and 4 million of these are socially excluded
  • the 1.8 million children currently digitally excluded could earn up to £10.8 billion in their lifetime if they were to become digitally literate
  • people who are digital literate can earn an average increase in their lifetime earnings of over £8000
  • the government could save £900 million a year if all digitally excluded adults where online and communicating with the government instead of face to face

Martha Lane Fox has said:

“I think it is really important to show the economic argument behind getting people online. By being online there are massive savings for people personally, rich rewards for their career prospects and also big savings for the government.
Martha Lane Fox: over 10 million in UK never been online

Her aim is to have everyone online by 2012, the London Olympics, and hopes to achieve this through local community organisations and peer to peer networks.  To help with this the Digital Inclusion Task Force have launched the following website:

Further Reading:

Social Networks – Useful or Not

Social media is the topic of an interesting discussion on the NCVO website –  to discover whether it is of benefit to organisations, especially those in the voluntary and community sector.  Social networks/media are online spaces such as facebook and twitter.

The general consensus is that it is of benefit and one of the participants has submitted five good points:

  • It’s free market intelligence
  • Engage with your supporters and improve your customer service
  • Raise your profile and increase your reach
  • Collaborate with your colleagues and develop your knowledge
  • It levels the playing field between large and small organisations
  • Submitted by Claire Rollinson on Tue, 29/09/2009 – 13:21

Event: Social Media and digital technology

The North West is playing host to a social media / digital technology conference this weekend.  The informal conference, held at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, is free to all on Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

“Attendees will be able to hear from a range of speakers on everything from iPhone applications to social media. People are invited to come and go as they please.”
Raising the Bar on digital technology

Visit the conference website to find out more.