Internet Users and Infrastructures for the Rural Economy in the Digital Age: A Forum for Policy and Practice 29 June 2012.
Organized by dot.rural Digital Economy Research Hub (dot.rural), University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, to be held at OII Oxford and University of Aberdeen.
Nations are not the most natural units of analysis to describe digital economies. Most economies are regional, as reflected in the importance of Silicon Valley, or the automotive industry, where national developments are concentrated in specific regions. In this respect, many issues facing social and economic development must be addressed through regionally targeted initiatives. This is certainly the case for the UK and other nations seeking to foster digital initiatives to support local and national economic growth and development. While one of the greatest regional divides is between rural and urban areas, different rural areas also have distinctive opportunities and challenges, driven by such factors as their location in relation to other economic hubs, and major transportation and communication infrastructures.
Initiatives focused on the Internet and related information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been one important approach to supporting the economic vitality of rural areas in Britain and worldwide. In some ways, these technologies can release untapped potential by overcoming the disadvantages of distance, such as in supporting access to information resources, but in other respects, distance and market characteristics create barriers to the development of advanced infrastructures, such as the higher costs per capita of infrastructure provision in rural areas. The differing social and economic cultures in rural areas also require understanding of how best to utilize digital technologies to achieve transformation in this distinctive milieu. Can new ICT infrastructures, from wired to wireless infrastructures, and services overcome some of the critical limitations of earlier efforts to bring rural areas more fully into the larger economy and society? How can understanding of the rural context contribute to the most effective development of the rural digital economy, and thus contribute to the realization of the RCUK Digital Economy Theme and the aims of the dot.rural research hub?
Topics are expected to include:
This one day policy forum will bring together leading academics in the study of ICTs and rural business and communities with key thought leaders from business, industry and government, who are interested in the next generation of Britain’s digital economy. Invited participants will be asked to provide brief (1-2 page) position papers that identify the key issues they wish to discuss, along with references to any background papers or work of relevance that they wish to call to the attention of other participants. The forum will be open to any issues raised by the invited participants, but we hope to cover the opportunities and challenges posed by the new technological opportunities, such as various wireless and hybrid infrastructures, within the constraints of current economic forecasts. The forum would welcome insights gained from developing initiatives in rural communities across Britain, but also seek to bring international experience to bear from the developed and rapidly developing world, where ICTs are playing an important role in regional development.
The forum is organized by Professor John Farrington of dot.rural, in collaboration with Professor Bill Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford. The organizers will record the discussion and draw from this live discussion, the position papers, and their own research to write a forum discussion paper that will identify and explain the key issues confronting the rural areas of the digital economy. This discussion paper will provide guidance to existing research initiatives and policy efforts that address these issues, but will also form an agenda of questions for which there are many unresolved issues that require further focused research. There will be a potential for a journal paper(s); further dissemination will be through dot.rural and OII networks and websites.
The event is by invitation but if you are interested please contact John Farrington for more information.