Are the Danish citizens’ IT-skills in fact in top?

December 5, 2007

Yesterday, I found an article on the Internet with the title “Danish people’s IT-competencies are in top” (written in Danish “Danskernes it-kompetencer i top”, see: http://epn.dk/teknologi/it/article1191474.ece.

Not even a year ago a report about the Danish citizens it-competencies claimed that approx. 40 % of the Danish people may be characterized as it-illiterates (see my commentary on this: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/11/18/40-it-illiterates-in-denmark-the-worlds-most-digitalized-society/ ) . This made me wonder.

What is going on?  

This is the case – as I see it:

EUROSTAT has conducted the “Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals” 2007, and published on December 3rd 2007 the Data in Focus document “Internet usage in 2007 Households and individuals” based on the data collected from the community survey among 16-74 year olds (see: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-QA-07-023/EN/KS-QA-07-023-EN.PDF). 

One of the titles in the 3 page document is “Individuals’ Internet skills: one in ten has created a web page”. This is interesting, but what does it mean?

When looking, it is actually a matter of “Figure 3: Individuals who have ever carried out specific Internet related activities in EU27, 2007 (%)” (my underlining).  

I ask: Is “ever carried out” equal to having the skills needed?

The other figures in the survey are about internet access and broadband connections in households. Denmark is once again placed among the top 2/3 countries.

I ask again: If Denmark is to be placed in top when it comes to diffusion of internet access and broadband connections, what does it mean? How can we use this information? 

Methods are never just tools for describing the world. Methods, whether quantitative or qualitative, enact worlds. The important question is in which ways do various methods enact worlds? The EUROSTAT survey may provide numbers that indicate that certain percentages of the households in the countries have internet and broadband, but it doesn’t really say anything about the accessibility of the internet for the people in those households. Furthermore, the survey is one imaginary about what it takes to become it skilled. According to the survey “ever carried out specific Internet related  activities” = having “internet skills”.   

Rather than pursuing the quest for the top position (whatever that means), we should start wondering about the enactments that are made.

What I find really interesting about the EUROSTAT survey is that Iceland (a non EU27 country) seems to score highest in most of the figures. There are great differences in the circumstances of the different countries. But furthermore, what strikes me are the remarkable differences across countries when it comes to individuals who have ever carried out specific internet related activities. There are clearly various ways of approaching and using it across countries and households. E.g. Denmark and Norway (the other non EU27 country included in the survey) are the two countries where most people answer that they have ever carried out internet related activities such as “Keep viruses, spyware, adware off my computer”.

So instead of jumping to quick conclusions about the temperature of the Danish citizens it-competences, I believe that we should use the figures and numbers to start thinking about our enactments of worlds and differences between worlds…

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The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

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e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “Are the Danish citizen’s ICT skills in fact in top?”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/are-the-danish-citizens-it-skills-in-fact-in-top/ . Version 11th December 2007. 

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