Second Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VI): Assessments and evaluation

Ismael Peña-López
Unpeeling the layers of the digital divide: category thresholds and relationships within composite indices

The goal of this research is to add reflection and knowledge to the belief that there is an important lack of tools to measure the development of the Information Society, specially addressed to policy makers aiming to foster digital development. We believe there is still an unexplored point of view in measuring the Information Society which goes from inside-out instead of outside-in. In other words, the main indices and/or reports focus either in technology penetration or in the general snapshot of the Information Society “as is”. There is, notwithstanding, a third approach that would deal with working only with digital-related indicators and indices, thus including some aspects not taken into account by the technology penetration approach (i.e. informational literacy), and putting aside some “real economy” or “analogue society” indicators not strictly related to the digital paradigm. Relationships between subindices would also provide interesting insight for policy makers on which to ground the design of their initiatives.

Presentation as a mental map:

Unpeeling the layers of the digital divide
Unpeeling the layers of the digital divide
[click to enlarge]

Working bibliography

Some comments/suggestions I got:

  • The importance of context when designing indices and how this context might challenge the accuracy, objectivity, suitability of these indices
  • The importance, beyond infrastructures, of international services broadcasters such as BBC or Voice America
  • Analyzing what the (real) goal, purpose of the indices is. How and, over all, why are they built the way they are
  • The importance of not only looking at what worked (e.g. projects and policies to foster the information society), but also what has failed, what and how many are the failed projects
  • The opportunity to develop different indexes according to the different countries, contexts, etc.
  • context, context, context

Florence Nameere Kivunike
Measuring the Information Society: An Explorative Study of Existing Tools

Why assess the Information society

  • Current status
  • Comparison
  • Tracking progress
  • Policy, decision-making
  • Research-related
  • Value-judgment

What is assessed

  • Social
  • Economic
  • Institutional

Temporal concept

  • Readiness
  • Intensity
  • Impact


  • Focusing mainly on infrastrucutre
  • Relationships among features
  • Limited consideration of context in terms of the enabling factors e.g. social or cultural setup and flexibility
  • Oversimplified methods characterized by subjective approaches

Challenges of IS Assessment

  • Dynamic and complex nature of the IS
  • Data constraints especially in development countries
  • Challenge of measuring transformation

More info

  • Menou, M. & Taylor, R. (2006) A “Grand Challenge”: Measuring Information Societies. 22, The Information Society p 261-267


Second Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2007)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “Second Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VI): Assessments and evaluation” In ICTlogy, #47, August 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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