How is it that the world’s most digitalized society has managed to become a society characterized by approx. 40 % ICT-illiterates as suggested by a survey of the citizens’ (16 years old or older) digital literacy in Denmark (published by Teknologisk Institut, January 2007)?
According to World Economic Forum, Denmark tops the rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007’s “Networked Readiness Index” (March 2007 see press release: http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest%20Press%20Releases/gitr_2007_press_release). It is difficult, but yet pivotal, that Denmark takes a serious self reflective look in the mirror and analyses Denmark as an ICT-nation.
There may be several issues at stake. One is the Networked Readiness Index. What does it really say? A second issue is the measurement of Danish citizens’ digital literacy. What is digital literacy, and is it measureable? What does it mean to be an it-illiterate in Denmark? A third matter to consider is how ICT and digital media participates in Danish citizens’ everyday lives – at home, at work and in school? A fourth question is, what can we use a top position for? What does it tell us?
We actually know very little about how ICT and digital media participates in Danish people’s everyday conduct of living. Since using and learning to use technologies must be viewed as joint activities, it is central to attend to the ways in which ICT and digital media becomes used in and across the everyday practices of people’s lives.
We know a lot about quantities and distribution of computers and internet in Danish homes, education and the public as well as private industry. We also have a lot of knowledge – but not enough – from research worldwide on formal learning activities with ICT and digital media, mostly in relation to formal goal- and content-oriented purposes in various educational contexts.
However, as informal ways of using and learning with ICT and digital media in the course of people’s everyday conduct of living is really where most of our societal e-learning is taken place, it is central that we emphasize a more systematic focus on these aspects of being an ICT-nation.
We see more and more examples of non-constructive ways of using ICT and digital media in our society – it is not only a Danish, but also a worldwide tendency: Happy Slapping, identity theft and other e-crimes. The spread of new technologies is not in and of itself something good.
Appointed as the world’s most digital society, we should consider ourselves obliged to take upon us the societal responsibility of keeping a critical stance towards being in this position. It isn’t just a case of the more the merrier. Having more doesn’t always turn out to be a good thing.
A highly digitalized society as Denmark is continuously in a state of becoming. With the speed of development, distribution as well as usages of ICT and digital media, it is a difficult but also an imperative task that we develop ways to analyze Denmark as a society in the making. We must invent ways to investigate enactments of societal regularities, variations of practices, as well as competent subjects with ICT and digital media.
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e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “40 % it-illiterates in Denmark – the world’s most digitalized society?”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/11/18/40-it-illiterates-in-denmark-the-worlds-most-digitalized-society/ . Version 11th December 2007.