An Agenda for Research and Action
I described the key aspects of an approach to integrate digital inclusion,
digital equality, and ICT use effectiveness. Someone is digitally included,
equal, and effective if he or she has the
desired/neededf access to the ICTs, the
desired/needed cognitive potential to
use the ICTs, and the desired/needed
behavior to leverage the benefits that
may stem from ICT use.
Academic studies, individual and
group practice, and public policy making benefit from this approach in organizing the key factors in research models, personal actions, organizational
planning and social programs that target inclusion, equality, and effectiveness in the digital society. However, the
digital effectiveness approach is not an
operating model to be put into action directly, as it is highly abstract. Rather, it is
a guide for research, practice, and policy
making in positioning, measuring, and
interpreting phenomena in one, two, or
three interrelated dimensions and according to several assumptions. The approach is expected to have the qualities
of being systemic and systematic, but it
must be parameterized in each application. In particular, the components of
each digital dimension and the stakeholder’s effectiveness criterion should
be modeled beforehand, for the measure of effectiveness to be as accurate
and useful as possible. Here, I present
ideas for studies and applications:
• Current studies on particular digital
effectiveness topics can be positioned
in the most appropriate dimension of
this approach. Also, it is interesting
to answer what is the main focus of already published studies in light of the
approach—are current studies more
interested in the components of digital
limitations in specific situations, the independent variables that act on them,
the intervening variables that moderate the effects, or the outcome variables
of digital effectiveness? New studies
might also start with the digital effectiveness approach to organize the analytical frame of reference before going
to the empirical field.
• In the absence of more specific
scales to measure a given limitation,
f It is desired if defined by the person himself/
herself, and it is needed if defined by someone else.
each of its components might be measured according to a normalized five-point scale ranging from “fully absent”
to “fully present” or according to a percent scale. Contrarily, if case-specific
scales are available, Likert and percent
scales might be also useful to normalize
the measurements for 3D plotting.
• I proposed an interpretation for the
digital effectiveness value—the arithmetic difference between capabilities
and limitations. However, is it possible
to define an ideal proportion or difference between limitations and capabilities in each effectiveness dimension, so
that we could look directly at the proportion or the difference and straightforwardly decide if an individual is digitally
effective or not? That is, is there a reference value based on statistical records
of decisions made in practice and their
reported outcomes on a given digital effectiveness situation?
• Another question is if the effectiveness criteria defined by different
stakeholders significantly differ in
most situations. For instance, what is
the typical difference of ICT-related
purposes between employers and employees, teachers and students, family
members, or the users of a shared tool
for online communications?
• Also, what is the typical positioning
of group members and their clustering
in the 3D digital effectiveness space,
such as a work unit, a family, a class of
students, or an electoral district? That
is, is there a typical distance between
group members in certain situations?
• Another effort would be to identify the typical individual that is most
limited in each digital effectiveness
dimension, given that this may reflect
demographic phenomena that we are
not aware of.
• The digital effectiveness approach
originally describes the capabilities and
limitations of a single individual. Never-
theless, it can be extended to describe
how the effectiveness level of one indi-
vidual impacts the effectiveness level of
another individual. For instance, an in-
dividual’s behavioral limitation regard-
ing the misuse of netiquette in a virtual
social network, such as when generat-
ing irrelevant information —noise—in
excess, may limit the access of others
to relevant information. Therefore, re-
search on digital effectiveness might
also address the interplay between the
level of effectiveness of multiple indi-
viduals in a group.
The goal of the digital effectiveness
approach is to promote awareness
about the requisites of a purposeful,
healthy digital society, starting at the
individual level. Such a society has
specific demands for human-centered
design of technology and for how ICT
innovation, diffusion, and use are conceived. In particular, I advocate that
organizations, scholars and public
agents should devise actions to include
and equalize people in the digital society, while also assuring the positive conditions for the individuals, by
themselves, to define and pursue effectiveness in the use of ICTs according to
their interests and the interests of the
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Carlo Gabriel Porto Bellini ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
is an associate professor of information systems in the
Department of Management at the Federal University of
© 2018 ACM 0001-0782/18/7 $15.00.