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      How do we understand “meaningful use” of the internet? Of divides, skills and socio-technical awareness

      e-conceptual-paper

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          Information and communications technologies (ICTs) have transformed the lives of many people around the world, yet billions remain unconnected. While many initiatives attempt to “connect the unconnected,” initiatives focused on access and skills-development alone will still fall short. Based on the authors’ experience with the SolarSPELL initiative, this study aims to propose using the concept of socio-technical awareness as a step forward in conceptualizing a more accurate picture of capabilities necessary to enable people to make meaningful use of the internet.

          Design/methodology/approach

          This paper uses an integrative literature review for the ideas related to the digital divide, digital inclusion and digital literacies, as well as the applied work of the authors in the SolarSPELL initiative, to develop the concept of socio-technical awareness, which is presented as a method for understanding empowered, meaningful internet use.

          Findings

          The argument is made that access, skills- and literacy-development are necessary but insufficient conditions for meaningful ICTs use. Accordingly, a third concept, socio-technical awareness, is introduced, and the case is made for including this concept in both application and measurement of meaningful use of ICTs.

          Practical implications

          The design of digital inclusion initiatives should focus on increasing socio-technical awareness to empower users to make meaningful use of digital technologies.

          Originality/value

          Taking a step further than most assessments of the digital divide or digital inclusion, this study proposes that to achieve meaningful internet use, people need access, requisite skills development and socio-technical awareness, to be able to make informed, empowered decisions about ICT use.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 95

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          Strategic niche management and sustainable innovation journeys: theory, findings, research agenda, and policy

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            The digital divide shifts to differences in usage

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              Digital inequalities and why they matter

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                JICES
                10.1108/JICES
                Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
                JICES
                Emerald Publishing Limited
                1477-996X
                1477-996X
                13 June 2020
                24 July 2020
                : 18
                Issue : 3 Issue title : Digital Inequalities: Contextualizing Problems and Solutions Issue title : Digital inequalities
                : 461-479
                Affiliations
                School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University , Tempe, Arizona, USA
                Author notes
                Laura Hosman can be contacted at: laurahosman@gmail.com
                Article
                647277 JICES-05-2020-0055.pdf JICES-05-2020-0055
                10.1108/JICES-05-2020-0055
                0a5e2ea6-7cde-4a6d-ae32-bf203e544907
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 95, Pages: 19, Words: 9973
                Categories
                e-conceptual-paper, Conceptual paper
                cat-IKM, Information & knowledge management
                cat-IMG, Information management & governance
                cat-IKM, Information & knowledge management
                cat-ICT, Information & communications technology
                Custom metadata
                M
                Web-ready article package
                Yes
                Yes
                JOURNAL
                included

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