There has also been an ever-growing reliance on digital technologies within our societies, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. People’s main channels of communication have now, either partly or entirely, transferred to digital services, platforms and apps. As a result, everyday life is increasingly mediated by the internet and digital devices.
These changes make it essential to ensure that different populations and groups are provided with equal opportunities to use and benefit from the use of digital technologies. However, issues of digital exclusion and inequalities are far from resolved in our societies and, because of the pandemic, may have become more pronounced.
Digital exclusion and inequalities can arise on multiple levels. In terms of infrastructure and skills – from the rollout and pricing of digital infrastructure and services through to a lack of provision of educational and skills training. Or in terms of the design of platforms and digital services. They are often designed, using algorithms aimed at providing personalised content and at boosting its visibility. Though, it is now well established that algorithms potentially make it easy for issues of misinformation, polarisation, and online abuse to impact users.
These challenges lie at the intersection of research policy and practice around digital inequalities, inclusion, and literacies. These are at the heart of this fourth edition of the Digital Inclusion, Policy and Research Conference (DIPRC) 2022.
As part of this conference, we invited scholars and practitioners to present their latest work on these topics encompassing:
- Which groups are the most vulnerable and struggle the most in terms of access, and/or benefit from the use of, digital technologies?
- How should different groups be provided with the support they need to develop digital and data literacy skills?
- How can key groups and communities use their knowledge to help them better navigate online risks and opportunities?
- What types of policy and practical interventions are needed to tackle digital inequalities and promote digital literacy in our contemporary societies?
- How can different governments, regions, and local municipalities respond to challenges relating to digital inclusion and digital literacy?