What does the twenty-first century “information society’ mean for all of us? This paper will examine information society developments primarily from an industrialized country perspective. However, it will acknowledge that the spread of networks means that developments in the industrialised countries have major implications for developing countries.
The paper will consider: 1) the key determinants of a ‘knowledge-driven economy’ and what this means for the broader concept of an ‘information society’ including the structure of information and communication technology investment, the system features of the new networks, the role of learning and new information exchange models and the weak links in the diffusion pathway. 2) the diffusion pathways for information and communication technologies and advanced networks will include an examination of business, government and citizen use of the new networks. 3) policy and regulatory priorities will emphasise the need for learning to acquire new skills and competencies, the need to reduce constraints on e-service delivery markets, and importance of improved monitoring of information society developments. 4) the potential for fostering public/private partnerships for mobilising information society developments for social and economic benefit. This section will give particular attention to the structure of incentives for public and private organisations to engage in such partnerships and the likelihood that such partnerships can substantially stimulate investment in sustainable network applications and services. 5) The paper will conclude with some observations on the dominant trends and the extent to which the twenty-first century ‘information society’ is likely to perpetuate existing asymmetries or give rise to a more equitable distribution of resources.