10 August 2006
Geographers at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) have been analysing how consumers make use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) across Great Britain.
Led by Professor Paul Longley (UCL Geography), the team built up a geographic and demographic profile of ICT adoption in households, creating the e-Society Profiler website where users can find how ICT savvy their own neighbourhood is by entering the postcode, and feedback their opinions to the project team.
"As access to digital technology either at home or in public places becomes more commonplace, it is becoming less sensible to think in terms of a single 'digital divide' in British society," said Professor Longley.
"More relevant are emerging patterns of digital differentiation within the population. Such differentiation is becoming manifest in how we access different types of goods and services, in the speed and convenience with which we are able to access them, and in the availability to us of new technologies in public and private domains. In new and subtle ways, high-speed networks, new hand-held and desktop devices, improved interface and system design and reconfigured Internet service providers are having important impacts upon productivity, work and social interaction."
By assembling a range of private and public sector data sources, the researchers aimed to discover these new and subtle polarities in ICT adoption, its increasingly routine usage and its contribution to consumption, information provision and citizen participation.
An eightfold classification has been created, divided further into 23 'types' of consumer, ranging from 'unengaged' to 'experts'. "This classification helps us to interpret new digital divides and to profile the pros and cons of the e-society," added Professor Longley.
To find out more, and to offer feedback on the classification, use the links at the bottom of this article.