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LAN cafes: cafes, places of gathering or sites of informal teaching and learning?
journal contributionposted on 2005-03-01, 00:00 authored by Catherine BeavisCatherine Beavis, H Nixon, S Atkinson
Despite the interest of sociologists and educational researchers in Internet café as sites for new cultural and social formations and informal learning, thus far little attention has been paid to the function of café owners, managers and other staff in the mediation and co-construction of those spaces. Drawing from interviews with managers of commercial Internet café in Australia specialising in LAN (Local Area Network) gaming, this article seeks to examine their role and their attitudes more closely; in particular with regard to school-aged users of their facilities. We contend that LAN café are liminal spaces situated at the margins of Australian culture and located at the junctions between home, school and the street, online and offline spaces, work and play. The roles of LAN café managers are similarly ambiguous: in many ways they can be regarded as informal teachers facilitating the process of informal learning.