Introduction

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The Emerging Global Village?

Today's explosive growth in Information Technology carries the promise of changing the landscape of human interaction forever. People speak of a world without boundaries, free from geographical constraints. In this new "Global Village," people will have the ability to connect to anybody else, regardless of where on Earth they might be located. In accordance with this vision, the U.S. and other countries are attempting to extend Internet access to all levels of society, assuming that this will create greater information exchange and foster economic growth.

However, what exactly are the effects of connecting the next billion users? This is the question that we wish to pursue. We will see that the popularly envisioned Global Village is only one possible outcome of increasing access to information technology. Another possibility is that improved technology will fragment society and lead to more balkanized interactions. In this scenario, IT will allow users to connect to others with increasingly similar preferences, creating virtual communities that are more homogeneous than the physical communities they replace.

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