The extent to which e-governance develops in a country is a function of the collective national and local capital supplying IT services and of informal social and human capital creating a demand for e-governance. Supply requires public officials and citizens to have access to the Internet and access varies enormously according to a country's modern resources and political openness. But the characterization of these differences as a digital divide is misleadingly static. A diffusion model of Internet access shows that it is more realistic to think of cross-national differences in terms of leading and lagging countries; in this model laggards have the potential to catch up with leaders. Differences in the capacity of countries to supply standard e-government services are a consequence of its degree of modern resources and to supply e-participation facilities reflects its political openness and extent of corruption. In countries with a high degree of modern resources and a majority of adults on line, digital choice creates limits as well as opportunities for e-governance, since most non-users of the Internet are older people who see no need for going on line. Among those on line a majority prefer to contact local and central government by traditional means, such as telephone or writing a letter. In the most modern and open societies the diffusion of the Internet is most likely to promote government efficiency and the virtual linkage of disparate public agencies serving the same client. In developing countries it will be one more pressure to reduce corruption and increase bureaucratization and in relatively closed regimes it can threaten destabilization by strengthening dissident mobilization within and across national borders. Globally, the diffusion process will promote openness in ‘intermestic’ public policies that involve both national and trans-national politics. It will also reduce the proportion of native English-speakers and increase bilingual and bicultural Internet users.