Thursday, January 31, 2008

Information Age Indices--Where Does Korea Stand?

This month another index has been announced, the purpose of which is to measure progress toward the information society. The development of this index, called the "Connectivity Scorecard," was funded by Nokia-Siemens Networks and its development was led by Professor Leonard Waverman of the London Business School. The developers took as two points of reference, the ITU's Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) and the Economist's E-readiness index. A basic premise of the new index is that the DOI and E-readiness indices stress only infrastructure and usage and slight "the skills and complementarities required to drive communications networks as an engine of growth. That is, it is “smart” usage which helps make Connectivity a driver of productivity gains and hence economic growth." (See The Connectivity Scorecard.) What caught my eye was the statement in this report that "Korea, a star performer on other indexes, finishes 10th largely because very high performance in infrastructure is not matched by correspondingly high scores on usage measures, especially by businesses." At first glance, this statement did not seem to mesh with my understanding of what is going on here in South Korea. To be blunt, it makes me wonder about the usage measures employed in The Connectivity Scorecard and whether they treat countries like Korea fairly, given that the majority of network activity here is carried out in the Korean language (한글 하고 아국마로). The development of international indices to measure the degree to which countries are networked, the extent to which these networks are used, and how that relates to economic, political and social development is no doubt important. However, it seems strange that South Korea would suddenly drop in the rankings with this new index. Rest assured that, as time permits, I will return to this topic and compare the major international indices in some detail.

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