Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interpreting digital information is one key to information society

Digital skills are one of the keys to cope with chances and risks of our digital world. Prof. Thomas Blaschke, Z_GIS, discussed the impacts of digitisation on society with participants of the “Montagsrunde” at the "Robert-Jungk-Bibliothek für Zukunftsfragen" in Salzburg.

The ability of understanding and interpreting digital information is essential. This also applies to digital geographic information, which is increasing: more than 250 Google location-based service apps were identified which are penetrating our daily life based on geographic information – public transport, routing and car-sharing to name just a few. Above all, new technologies allow the user to participate. Civic involvement increasingly makes the user a ‘prosumer’ of information.

Nevertheless questions of data security and privacy make us feel uncomfortable, which was also obvious in the discussion. Another issue: Whilst companies like Google offering Internet services, are prospering, the benefit for the user is sometimes doubtful. Whereas consumers benefit from the sharing economy, the situation of employees sometimes deteriorates: Badly-paid drivers of companies offering delivery services feel increasing pressure by being monitored whenever they are on their way. Last but not least the risk of a digital divide within our society requires counteraction.

The participants agreed that overall society benefits in many ways from this technological development. And there are ways to influence what is about to come: the next few years will provide chances to actively steer this process. What is needed is education in ‘citizenship’ beyond commercial usage of technology but on how digital connectivity for everyone to everything, anywhere and at anytime can be used constructively within and for society.

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