An interesting development in the UK is that residents of Solihull Community Housing are about to get connected to the Internet through their power points at low cost, subsidised due to their low incomes. Solihull is a town in the North of England and these are homes provided by Local Government, in case anyone's wondering.
Point 1: Good. The initial promise was always that the Internet would provide the ultimate in democratisation, everyone could get hold of it and influence it. What's actually happened has been that everyone with a certain income, everyone who's middle-classed and professional, has been able to do precisely that while the rest of the world does what it's told. Anything that redresses that balance gives me hope.
The effect on the technologised community is going to be a little harder to predict. If this idea of providing Internet connections for the deprived becomes widespread then there's going to be fun when someone logs on and, say, can't see a web page. See, I intend no disrespect when I say this particular client group isn't always the most educated or eloquent - I hate to sound like a snob but being educated and able isn't how some people end up in social housing in the first place. So if they can't see your site and you ask which browser they're using, they're a) not going to know and b) you're going to get a mouthful of abuse when you ask.
There's also the sticky question of what happens when their Internet supply goes wrong. Does all the wiring have to come out? And what about when people in other social housing schemes hear about this plug-in Internet they haven't got? I suspect they'll complain. And I won't blame them.
Internet for the masses is and has always been the aim of everyone involved in developing the Web. I'll watch this latest iteration of it with interest.