Science “Wednesday”: grasping at digitalisation

January 28th, 2022

This Wednesday’s paper comes from joint work by the Digiscape Social Dimensions and Great Barrier Reef project teams. Simon Fielke and colleagues take the idea of “grasping” the digital –  that is to say, sense-making and existing in the “in-between” of digital and physical worlds – and use it to provide an account of the process by which people grasp a foreign digital technology:

M Mystery I have no idea, I don’t care, I don’t see X as important, I don’t have the resources to consider X
A Aware I have heard of X, tell me more, help me understand its value
S Spark I want to play with X! This is fun/a hobby, I’ll have a go, I’m understanding how X can fit in with my values and physical world
T Transform I am going to invest in X because it could change how I do things, I am gaining confidence, I am able to share with others
  • This is an applied framework. The application lies in reflecting on where the stakeholders in a digital transformation are on this journey, and whether the way a technology presents itself enables the changes from one stage to the next (to see how this works, read the paper’s account of how the GBR project team made use of it in their inquiry and reflection)
  • In the Digiscape Future Science Platform we have focussed heavily on the idea of “product” as a way of ensuring that CSIRO’s investment of time and people yields a return. One of the virtues of this paper is that it drives home that successfully deploying a “product” doesn’t necessarily imply that its users will be passive recipients of the tech. This is a story we can tell about all the Digiscape products, not just the 1622 app that is the subject of the paper. As the complexity of a digital product goes up, I suspect the need for the technology (and the product team) to enable “sparking” and “transforming” also becomes greater.
  • Readers who come from an agricultural background may be familiar with Bennett’s hierarchy for thinking about technology adoption, and in particular the KASA concept: changes in knowledge, attitudes,skills and aspirations together lead to practice change. Simon et al‘s Digi-MAST framework asserts a proposition about practice change in the agri-digital world: change in knowledge needs to come first (M→A), followed by change in attitudes (A→S), and that change in skills and aspirations are enabled thereby (S→T)