Type of work: Article (academic)
The paper conceptualizes ways to approach meaning, purpose and components of tools to measure digital divide. There are two general types of measures in common use for the measurement of the digital divide(s): focused monotopical indices and comprehensive indices. Monotopical indices are more widely available, while comprehensive ones are rare. It raises criticism of policymakers who prefer to approach digital divide from a cost and rapid outputs perspectives, on the expense of a thoughtful analysis of: (i) the purpose of the tool (ii) the level of observation and (iii) the method of approaching the data. This article raises the debates and tensions in each one of these levels. We argue that there is a substantial need of policymakers to promote comprehensive indices over monotopical indices. Additionally, the paper compares some comprehensive tools and highlights some characteristics that they lack. Finally we present a conceptual definition and framework to measure the digital divide as an index, and propose a set of factors needed if the framework is to be made operational. This is just a first step towards constructing a practical tool. The strength of the paper resides in its conceptual analysis to as how to approach measurement of the digital divide.