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Can we gather more ground-level data?

on August 4, 2010

(I’m reporting all this week at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, California. For more coverage, check out the Techonomy blog.)

A country’s decision making process for information and communication technologies (ICT) has gone through two very distinct stages. Prior to the collection of worldwide data by country, decisions were first made based on anecdotal information.

The second stage, where we currently stand today is utilizing a combination of hard data and somewhat anecdotal information culled together to form a Networked Readiness Index or NRI. This index is seen as a collection of best practices for ICT readiness and competitiveness and it’s gathered and summarized by the World Economic Forum in its “Global Information Technology Report.”

The purpose of the NRI is to determine how a country’s information and communication technologies (ICT) are being used currently and how capable it is of continued growth. The hope is that countries can use this data to make decisions about ICT. For example, one data point demonstrates the top and worst performers by income group. Looking at similar countries, can analysts determine what countries are doing right and wrong with regard to ICT.

The data the World Economic Forum uses to calculate its Networked Readiness Index (NRI) is comprised of 60 different variables of which 40 percent are hard data and the remaining 60 percent are based on survey data. That survey data is collected from a few thousand CEOs or managers of organizations.

Step up data collection by digging down

When we have a highly connected community that’s eager to tell their story and their wants, why shouldn’t we let them have a voice? Where information can be gathered from the ground level up, why are we relying on CEOs to tell us the story of their entire country?

Prior to the collective intelligence of the social Internet, that may have been the best solution to collect pseudo-anecdotal information, but it’s not anymore.

We have seen in so many cases that unstructured knowledge gathering is the most cost efficient and eye-opening data point. The pure existence of discussion boards, blogs, and most notably Wikipedia have shown that individuals can put their excess time to productive use. If people have the time, the desire to tell their story, why not create a forum on a national and global scale to provide that information? We have a cognitive surplus as Clay Shirky explains.

Read the rest of the article on the Techonomy site.

Creative Commons photo credit to Steve Crane.

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