The “cool factor” of public access to ICT: Users’ perceptions of trust in libraries, telecentres and cybercafés in developing countries


Purpose – This paper aims to determine how trust and perceptions shape uses of information and communication technologies (ICT) in public access venues (libraries, telecentres, and cybercafés) in 25 developing countries around the world.

Design/methodology/approach – As part of a global study conducted by the Technology & Social Change Group at the University of Washington, local research teams conducted surveys, site visits, and interviews of over 25,000 respondents in different types of public access venues in the selected countries, using a shared research design and analytical framework.

Findings – The use of public access venues is shaped by the following trust factors: safety concerns, relevance of the information, reputation of the institution, and users' perceptions of how “cool” these venues are. While libraries tend to be trusted as most reputable, telecentres tend to be trusted as most relevant to meet local needs, and cybercafés tend to be perceived as most “cool”.

Research limitations/implications – The paper is limited by its descriptive and not predictive nature, and is not based on a statistically representative sample of the population.

Practical implications – The insight presented in this paper can help inform policy decisions about public access initiatives, and inform future research to better understand the causes and consequences of trust in public access ICT. Understanding these perceptions helps gain a more nuanced understanding of the way services are provided in venues that offer public access to ICT.

Originality/value – This paper is novel as it covers public access to ICT in 25 developing countries across different types of venues, using a shared design and methodological approach. A study of this magnitude has never been done before. The findings provide valuable insight into understanding how people trust different types of public access ICT venues.

Recommended Citation

Gomez, R., & Gould, E. (2010). The "cool factor" of public access to ICT: Users' perceptions of trust in libraries, telecentres and cybercafés in developing countries. Information Technology and People, 23, 3, 247-264.