Technology hype versus enduring uses: A longitudinal study of Internet use among early adopters in an African city

  • Jenna Burrell University of California-Berkeley
Keywords: Internet, Internet cafes, urban

Abstract

This paper considers a set of early adopters of the Internet first encountered by the author in the Internet cafés of Accra, Ghana. The analysis draws from long–term ethnographic research and paired interviews with key informants separated by a six–year interval to identify and explain different trajectories of changing use of the Internet over time. Changes in use followed one of three general patterns: (1) intensification, (2) reorientation, or (3) discontinuance. These changes were linked to the life circumstances of individual users, their immediate social context of use, as well as broader societal shifts in the perception of the Internet in Ghana. This article critiques an implicit theory of technology in society in socio–economic development work targeting low–income countries like Ghana by showing how assessments of technology’s efficacy by users are culturally shaped and prone to change over time.

Author Biography

Jenna Burrell, University of California-Berkeley
Assistant Professor, School of Information, UC-Berkeley
Published
2012-06-03
How to Cite
Burrell, J. (2012). Technology hype versus enduring uses: A longitudinal study of Internet use among early adopters in an African city. First Monday, 17(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i6.3964