this the end of the internet café?
Fri 15 Oct 2004 ROB TOMLINSON
A DECADE AGO, they were at the cutting edge of cool,
a hip high street hang-out for pioneers of the "information
super highway" and a magnet for travellers who
favoured e-mail over airmail to keep in touch with friends
Bill Buchanan, from the school of computing
at Napier University in Edinburgh, likens the early
popularity of internet cafés to renting out VHS
and DVD machines following their initial appearance
on the high street. "People rented them at first
because of the price, but now they’re so cheap
you might as well buy one," he says. "It’s
the same with internet access."
He is not surprised that in the year of its
tenth birthday, the standard high street internet café
is, essentially, a thing of the past. "Things become
redundant so quickly now because of the technology.
It has changed so quickly within ten years - but that’s
what makes it exciting."
Buchanan believes that backpackers and travellers
will increasingly use wireless technology to stay in
touch, although internet cafés may have a minor
role by providing leading-edge technology such as video-streaming.
"This can allow you to watch, say, a soccer match
from a really remote or obscure place, which you would
not be able to do from a home PC," he said.