IT is having substantial effects on many domains of society, including the economy, education, research, and the home. In most areas, however, the effects of IT—and the choices that can be made to influence the effects—are not well understood. Moreover, significant new technologies are changing the nature of the effects as they are being researched. There is a large agenda for future research.
NSF sponsored a National Research Council (NRC) study of research needed on the economic and social effects of IT (CSTB 1998). Although the NRC panel did not attempt to provide a comprehensive research agenda, it highlighted an illustrative set of promising areas for research:
The NRC panel also identified ways to improve the data needed to study the economic and social effects of IT, such as making data related to the social and economic effects of computing and communications available to the research community through a clearinghouse; exploring ways for researchers to obtain access to private-sector data; and establishing stronger ties with industry associations to facilitate collaborative research.[Skip Text Box]
Interconnectivity index. This index would provide a measure of the facility of electronic communication and an evaluation of the development of this dimension of the information infrastructure.
Information quality of life index. Similar to an index produced by OECD, this index would attempt to evaluate the qualitative levels of communication available to individuals.
Leading information indicators. This index would attempt to predict the growth of the information infrastructure.
Home media index. This index of the state of penetration of communications technologies in the home might qualify as a leading index of the potential for future consumption of information.
Marginalization index. This index would measure the extent to which specific populations are excluded from participation in the information infrastructure.
SOURCE: CSTB (1998).