Presentation on theme: "THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF ICT William Davies Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Public Policy Research Towards an."— Presentation transcript:
THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF ICT William Davies Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Public Policy Research Towards an Information Society for All Bucharest, 14th October 2004
What is an ICT?
Two characteristics of ICT 1.They enable us to store knowledge so that it can be used at a different time. 2.They enable us to transmit that knowledge so that it can be used at a different place.
(a word from William Mitchell) Four ways of communicating, with or without ICTs: At the same timeAt different times In the same placeFace to face; instant messenger in the office ing someone in the same office In different placesA telephone callPostal service
So why The Information Society? Since the 1960s, ICTs have undergone four fairly dramatic changes: 1.Their ability to store and process knowledge has increased - memory 2.The speed with which they transmit information has increased - bandwidth 3.Their ability to integrate separate informational, social and cultural systems has increased - digitization 4.They have become decentralised - the information society
The politics of technological decentralisation
Where does ICT have social impact? 1.Markets 2.Communities 3.Democracy
Markets Thesis: By vastly expanding the quantity and availability of information to customers, businesses and employees, ICTs flatten competitive advantage, remove geographic constraints and create unprecedented market demand for knowledge-processing. The end of the business cycle The New Economy Weightless world
Markets However The end of information scarcity places ever greater emphasis on forms of competitive advantage other than information: –Tacit knowledge - the growth of the symbolic analyst –Customer service - the growth of the low- wage service sector –Social networks –Culture, place and cities
Markets Threats Inequality - ICT potentially supports a growing division between routinised work and judgmental work, played out both within national labour markets, and between nations. Opportunities A New Economy - ICT leads to increased productivity, growing competition between large and small businesses, and higher value-added work
Communities Thesis: By enabling communities to break free of the constraints of time and place, ICTs facilitate a shift from communities formed around shared place to communities formed around shared interest. The death of distance The global village The virtual community
Communities However: Shared place is a shared interest, and ICT can support it as such. –Supporting offline social networks and associations –Wired communities –Local portals Communities of interest use ICTs to coordinate their interests across different times and places, but occasionally use ICTs to congregate in the same time and place.
Communities Threats New social divides - ICT can be used to police communities in an exclusive fashion. Opportunities Scalability - the flexibility of new media offers the possibility of helping civic activities scale, expanding grass-roots activism, and helping it connect to larger, more formal political activity.
Democracy Thesis ICT can facilitate direct interaction between government and the people, cutting out the need for mediators and achieving higher levels of trust, transparency and responsiveness as a result. e-Democracy Open source democracy Open.gov
Democracy However ICTs lend themselves more easily to surveillance and transactions than to political dialogue: –E-government is largely about integrating back office functions, and providing convenient access points for transactions. –Individuals seek safety from the state, as much as legitimacy. –Often there is no difference between personalisation of a government service and surveillance.
Democracy Threats Public/private blurring - We fail to work out legitimate uses of data-sharing, allowing government to become part of our private lives but no longer a central part of our public lives. Opportunities Self-governance - e-government is not just about self-service, but also about self-governance.
Looking forward As ICTs become smaller, cheaper and more pervasive, they will become more entwined with the physical environment. RFID Geo-tagging of data Smart places and mobile phones As individuals become more media literate, they will become better at using ICTs to find and avoid people, places, services and products to suit their interests best.
Looking forward We at the ippr are publishing a Manifesto for a Digital Britain in April We are holding over 20 seminars on various aspects of the Information Society over the next six months. Follow our progress and interact with the project at the weblog: Thank you!