or her needs, and ISPs and other organizations that have the data must be convinced of the need for steady monitoring and sharing of data at least in part with researchers.

The committee believes that this report is a first step in providing an analytical framework for evaluating the Internet's impacts. Much work remains to be done in the topics included in this report, in identifying indicators for other sectors and other uses, and of course in-country coverage for testing the indicators. A number of researchers and research organizations are studying various aspects of information technologies and their effects in both industrialized and developing countries. As this body of research grows, there is a need to share the data with those conducting the research and those who might be impacted by it. To this end, the committee suggests that a standing international network of research and policy formulation would be useful. Additional areas beyond the scope of this report that deserve further study are noted below.

  • Causality. As noted in Chapter 2, the use of indicators is complicated by the difficulty in proving a causal relationship. Some direct impacts of the Internet are very specific and relatively easy to measure, but as one moves to more and more indirect relationships (e.g., increases in productivity and speed of work) external influences increase and causality becomes increasingly difficult to ascertain. In such cases, ascertaining causality will require minimizing external influences and using surrogate indicators. While indirect impacts may be difficult to identify, measure, and modify, they may also be of great social and economic importance; indeed, the more global the impact, the more indirect and difficult it is to measure. These difficulties of determining social impacts are not unique to the Internet. A study commissioned by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund found similar difficulties for other media in other regions.34 More research is needed in both the methodology and application of such techniques.

34  

Ernest Wilson, 1997, Globalization, Information Technology and Conflict in the Second and Third Worlds: A Critical Review of the Literature, Rockefeller Brothers Fund.



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