Abstract - The Information Society 25(3)

Sizing Up Information Societies: Towards a Better Metric for the Cultures of ICT Adoption

Philip N. Howard, Ken Anderson, Laura Busch, and Dawn Nafus

When researchers study technology diffusion in a global and comparative manner, they often find that economic productivity explains differences in the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs). But when researchers study technology diffusion in a regional, national or sub-national context, they often find that politics and culture explains different diffusion rates. How do we make use of different kinds of conclusions drawn from different levels of analysis? Just knowing the ways in which wealth explains technology diffusion can obscure the ways in which politics and culture also explain patterns in technology diffusion. In this article, we offer a new perspective on weighting technology diffusion data by economic wealth to set into sharp relief the ways in which other factors—such as politics and culture—influence how well a country metabolizes new technologies. A simple but useful computation is offered, examples are assessed, and implications for public policy, industry and research are discussed.


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