In our Digital Life in the City Panel, we pondered about what digital life is and what may be limiting our growth in digitization. We contemplated that the barriers to creating a better digital life in Latin America may be more about culture and willingness than technology and access.
What Is Digital Life?
Participants gave varying definitions when asked, “What is digital life?” but some themes emerged. Participants said that digital life is about the ability to connect with other people, ideas and resources. It is a means by which you can improve the quality of your life using digital tools to make daily life more convenient, efficient and enjoyable. Further, “digital life” and “technology” are not synonymous. Participants viewed technology as the enabler of a digital life; that is, technology is a tool and digital life is an experience.
What Is Limiting the Growth of Digital Life in Latin America?
At the Digital Life in the City Panel, participants suggested that technology and access are not preventing Latin America from enjoying digital life. Instead, other barriers were mentioned including:
Lack of skills to use technology and enjoy digital life.
Inadequate training to help people develop those skills.
Fear of technology and digitization.
Shortage of qualified personnel to implement digital projects in governments and businesses.
The Demand Gap
One of the biggest limiting factors for digital life in Latin America is what Raul Katz referred to as the “demand gap.” As mentioned, Latin America is doing very well in supply and access, but the demand gap refers to roughly 45 percent of the people who, although they could access digital life, do not wish to do so. Three factors explain the demand gap, including affordability (some people still cannot afford technology and the associated taxes), digital literacy (the skills factor where some people do not know how to get online, access content, send emails, etc.), and relevancy (in terms of content, much of what is on the internet is in the English language).
In reflecting on these difficulties, participants agreed that we must address these problems in order to promote digital acquisition in Latin America. The gap is widening between people who have digital access and those who do not, and steps must be taken today to increase digital inclusion.