Thursday, December 28, 2006

During the Christmas holidays I have been reflecting on the origins of my interest in the Digital Society. I have been observering changes and the technological advances over the last 5-6 years; without actually being able to define what I observed. I did however comment services, technologies and other products in emails with colleagues, clients, friends and family. Blogging appears to be the most practical tool to collect my thoughts -- I suspect it will have more therapeutical benefits than subject matter insights.

This blog was set up in Jan 2004, more as a placeholder – while I figured what to do. Resuming its use is driven by the need to capture these thoughts with the freedom to ponder my observation post -- as a solution planning architect? as a citizen? as a consumer? or as quasi-academician? Right now I am most "citizen"-- but I strain to resist the temptation to "think solutions"

A brief background
The interest for this topic arose with my engagement for the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland (in 1999 & 2000). I led a team to create a novel solution to communicate and share the essence of the Annual Davos meetings. We created some interesting technology solutions for information visualisation, collaboration etc. However, it was the environment and the World Economic Forum's approach to the Global Agenda which gave me good insight into the complex mesh of society, technology and business at the global level. However, at that time, Digital Divide og Globalisation were buzzwords portrayed more problem-oriented than opportunity-oriented.

Over the years, I have had a number of interesting client engagements and insightful discussions at work and with friends and family. These have given me a better understanding of the dynamics of solutions we – directly or indriectly -- create for society at large. It was late 2003, as part of my work around alliance development and in shaping the "Home PC" agreement for my employers, that the idea of ”Norway as a test-bed for the Digital Society” first came up. The idea was to drive the creation of digital services; services that consumers (or employees in this case) would be willing to subscribe to. The Home PC scheme is a tax-rebated scheme instituted by the Norwegian government to increase the use of IT among the general population. Exploiting this scheme together with key service providers and other major players in the Norwegian amrket could create an arena for creating digital services. ”Consumer-driven Design” and ”citizen-driven design” were key concepts (borrowed from ”user-driven design” and ”user-centered design” approaches from software engineering). That did not quite happen (even though a few did create interesting home media solutions).

So what?
I am not quite sure where this will lead, but I observe our society transform "slowly" but surely. I also see the potential to exploit techniques from "enterprise architecture" and "enterprise transformation" to increase the predictability of this societal change. Not so much to manage, but to facilitate and hopefully increase the participation of citizens. My hope is technology is a tool and catalyst to transform society.


RennyBA said...

Hi Francis - you really have an interesting and very readable blog here. Thanks for inviting me to have a look!

The subject about how tech transform the society is very interesting. No question it does, but how. I think it sneaks in everywhere and you hardly don't notice. Children use more time at their puter than TV and soon the adults is following. Convergence is a key word and the enabler I think. Always on without almost not notice makes the Digital Society.

Francis said...

That's right Renny! The fact that it "sneaks in" is what makes it an interesting challenge. Those of us old enough to remember the "mainframe to PC sneak attack" may probably see similarities. Question is, "Can we apply any of the learnings from those days?"