It's hard to know where to start with Get Online Week. So many of the arguments for and against are old and given it has morphed from 'Get Online Day' four years ago, it suggests this seemingly irrefutable logic is likely to come around again in another four years anyway (Get Online Month?), if not much sooner. That said both the duration of the promotion and its greater media coverage show it is a more pressing topic than ever before... especially for those already comfortable online.
For those not in the know, Get Online Week has a simple and self evident message: a one week drive by some of the largest brands in the UK to try and persuade some of the estimated 9.2m Brits who have never used the Internet to take that brave first click. Partners behind the scheme include the BBC, Post Office, BT, Google, Sky, 3, PriceGrabber, Microsoft, Facebook, McDonalds, TalkTalk, Directgov, ITV, Comet and the Daily Mirror.
More than 3,000 events are planned for the week which runs 18-24 October in which it is hoped over 80,000 people will become online converts - 8x the number achieved by 2006's Get Online Day.
"With most new jobs now requiring IT skills, government and corporate services going online, new internet bargains and cheap communication channels, being left behind technology has some serious side effects," stressed government network UK Online Centres. "What's more, the problem is worse for those already at a disadvantage - if you're older, disabled, or on a low income, you're far more likely to be offline. The idea of Get Online Week is to give some of those people a chance to catch up."
No doubt as you're reading this on TrustedReviews - an online site with a technology focus, this message is preaching to the converted. It may also seem crazy that in 2010 (going on 2011) one in six Brits has never clicked a mouse, loaded up a website or shown any inclination to do so. More shocking, however, is these figures look extremely conservative.
Back in July data from the UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM) reported there are just 38.8m active web users in Britain. This leaves over one third of the population, more than 20m people, offline - a vast increase on the 9.2m Get Online Week claims. The upside is the tide is turning. Worrying as these numbers may be, UKOM points out they represent a five per cent rise on the same period last year: a 1.9m annual increase. Furthermore the biggest part of this gain was from the over 50s who accounted for in excess of a million.