I attended Understanding Digital Policy in mid-December, on behalf of the Centre for Social Informatics. This unconference, initiated by Professor Simeon Yates, leader of the ESRC’s Ways of Being in a Digital Age scoping review, was created to tackle two complementary questions:
- How is policy shaping the uptake and use of Digital Media and Technologies?
- How are Digital Media and Technologies shaping policy making and policy implementation?
|Tim Adey, Government Digital Service||James Beecher, Citizens Online|
|Grant Blank, Oxford Internet Institute||Mark Burratt, Projects with Purpose|
|Louise Cooke, Loughborough University||Paul Hepburn, Liverpool University|
|Eleanor Lockley, Sheffield Hallam University||Hannah Marston, Open University|
|Sabine K McNeill, 3d-metrics.com||Brigid Murphy, Liverpool University|
|John Perkins, Doteveryone||Greg Singh, Stirling University|
|Chris Smith, Department for International Trade||Robin Spinks, Royal National Institute of Blind People|
|Jane Vincent, London School of Economics||Paul Waller, Brunel University|
|Bridgette Wessels, Newcastle University||Yan Wu, Swansea University|
We used our handwritten ‘about-me’s to divide ourselves into three groups, each tasked with elucidating the important research questions for our topics. My group’s topic was community/local – we came up with these RQs:
- How can we better, more usefully segment the ‘digitally excluded’? (personally, multi-dimensionally, socially, situationally, …?)
- How can we achieve iterative digital learning?
- Can we reverse the questions about digital inclusion away from a web-centric perspective? (How do we understand ‘digital need’?)
We were also sure that these questions needed a cross-cutting ethical dimension:
The other groups identified these RQs:
- How do we distinguish between good digital and bad digital?
- How can we ‘digitals’ influence what happens?
- Addressing digital awareness gaps to avoid digital exclusion and digital superficiality.
- How can local authorities innovate in an age of austerity?
- How can digital policy enable and empower local communities in a sustainable manner? (How do we build a culture of sustainable accessibility?)
We realised that these have a lot of overlap and cross-cutting issues. Our resolution was to restate them under four headings:
|Good digital and bad digital
The underlined questions are the ones that I believe fall into CSI research areas, with its strengths in eGovernment, Information Science and Information Society.
I’m very grateful to the organisers for a challenging, thought-provoking day, and look forward to working on some of the questions it raised.