Digital Economics

Digital technology is the representation of information in bits. This technology has reduced the cost of storage, computation, and transmission of data. Research on digital economics examines whether and how digital technology changes economic activity. In this review, we emphasize the reduction in five distinct economic costs associated with digital economic activity: search costs, replication costs, transportation costs, tracking costs, and verification costs.

Week Notes #202

This week I did:

Product configuration for online mentoring

We launched the MVP of the platform to enable online mentoring and deliver courses and workshops to young people so I defined the policy settings that control how four user types will behave, wrote six hundred test cases, wrote a user guide, and helped design the feedback loop for support and improvements. It was another fast-paced busy week with lots of individual pieces of the jigsaw being fitted into place and lots to hold in my head and make sure we understand the impact a change in one place affects all the connected parts. 

A non-service-designers guide to service design

I published my ‘work in progress’ collection of information, blogs, resources, books, podcasts, and people to follow about Service Design. My tweet about it received more attention than I was expecting, especially as it was late on Sunday evening, but I’m keen to add more to it and take it out of it’s ‘work in progress’ state to where it feels like a complete set of resources. Then I can leave it for a while to work on other sets of resources for things like user story mapping. Anyway, it’s number three on my list of writings to finish this weekend so I’ll see how far I get.

Charities need better technology

I’ve been working on a blog post about how a number of charities were struggling with identifying and using the right platforms for communicating and providing digital services with their service users from The Catalyst’s article ‘The top ten digital challenges facing the charity sector‘. I’m trying to make the point that the digital communication technologies that charities are using aren’t fit for purpose as they are designed either as enterprise tools for communicating between colleagues or consumer tools for communicating with friends and family, and that what charities need is a different type of product, one that is built privacy-first, has enterprise-level security, and enables people within an organisation to talk to people outside the organisation. Hopefully I’ll get it finished soon.


And I studied:

Digital collaborative platforms

This week’s lecture discussed the “crucial change brought by digital technologies in the way we collaborate in organisations and beyond. The topic discusses changes in the business environment, in which organisations become more collaborative. It explores some trends in digital collaborative platforms, using mainly the examples from social media, and building the arguments to expand the logic to proprietary tools such as Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Connections. Finally, the lecture discusses the economics and motivation of collaboration, drawing upon examples.”

It was a really interesting topic and one of the better lectures of the module, probably because I’m interested in collaborative platforms (Go MS Teams!) but especially for the parts about people’s motivations for using or not using these organisational knowledge management tools.


And thought about:

It hasn’t been a great week for thinking, too much stuff requiring immediate attention and not enough space to go deep, but…

Building in the open

Oikos Digital launched their new website, which is cool anyway, but is being built in the open, which is way cooler. I love the approach. I’d love to build a site entirely in the open that starts with a feedback tool and performance dashboard so that people can be involved in the entire build, from thoughts on the design and layout, co-creating content, testing on different devices and scenarios.

Solidarity and widening our ‘us’.

I’ve listened to a few podcasts on the multiple-order effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the structural racism in our society that is being highlighted and tackled by the Black Live Matter movement, utilitarianism and effective altruism’s approach to doing the most good. The theme I see running through all of them is ideas of solidarity (defined as: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.). We humans tend to have solidarity with those we feel we have something in common. For some people, this commonality is narrowly defined (only men in a certain age group, of certain wealth, with certain education, etc., etc.) and for others it’s widely defined (the majority of people from a nation, a race, or even the entire species). The inequalities in our society come about from a clash of these solidarities. I think diversity of solidarities is probably a good thing, so the solution isn’t about saying everyone should have the same sense of solidarity, but instead if everyone widened the group of people they consider themselves to have commonalities with, widening the number and groups of people they consider to be ‘us’ rather than ‘them, then perhaps the exponential effects could tackle some of the inequalities and make for a fairer world.


And read tweets about:

Systems thinking in context of internet-era approaches to service design and delivery

Tom Loose more tweeted “Hunting an accessible* intro to systems thinking in context of internet-era approaches to service design and delivery.”

That’s one of those fascinating intersecting-worlds moments. 

One reply included a link to Design 4 Services for thoughts on system thinking in services,

“This dynamic complexity requires a new way of thinking. It is no longer enough to simply examine and act upon each part of a system in isolation.  It is necessary to examine how each part interacts with each other; and work on the system as a whole.” and a reply from Tom, “a good primer… Just need to inject the notion that internet-era agility & analysis let’s you speed up and improve quality of feedback loop”

Another reply had a link to the Systems Innovation’s YouTube Playlist, some of which I’ve watched before (they’re really good and I should watch more).

But still the question, how to apply system thinking to internet-era ways of working? How to create useful crossover between two sets of ideas, take parts of one and apply to another?

Start somewhere: Key findings from an exploratory study into making technology imaginable and usable for small voluntary organisations

Many small voluntary organisations feel technology could support them to become more accessible, relevant and efficient – but they don’t have time to properly research and test different approaches or to implement and maintain them. Study findings include tips and advice from small voluntary organisations on overcoming the barriers to using technology; pointers for support organisations; and things for funders to think about – such as how they can support infrastructure, training and experimentation costs associated with ‘digital transformation’.