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Research into the use of information and communication technology in the home environment in 2010
H. Bouwman and P. van der Duin
H. Bouwman (H.Bouwman@tbm.tudelft.nl) is Assistant Professor in the Information and Communication Technology Department and P. van der Duin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Research Fellow in the Technology, Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department, both at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.
Keywords Forecasting, Technology led strategy, Information, Communication, Development Abstract Information and communication technology (ICT) is increasingly being used in the home environment, making it a very important and interesting research topic for communication scientists. Future developments will influence the way and the extent to which ICT will be used in the home environment and therefore the way people look for information, communicate, make use of entertainment services and carry out transactions. However, it is still very difficult to make meaningful and accurate forecasts with regard to the possible future use and acceptance of ICT in people’s homes. Important reasons are, for example, that more and more market parties are involved in the development of innovative ICT products and services. This makes developments more complex and the outcomes more uncertain. Furthermore, consumers play an important role in the development of new ICT-based information, communication, transaction and entertainment services. Since a precise prediction of the possible use of ICT in domestic environments in 2010 is hard to make, other methods of futures research must be used. Combining technological forecasting with scenario thinking is such a research method, whereon, technological forecasting shows the major trends in the specific technology domain, while scenarios cover the possible future worlds. By giving end-users a central place in these scenarios, the diversity of the use and acceptance of innovative products and services is captured. Thus, the addition of scenarios to the technology trends gives insight into the possibilities (and impossibilities) of new ICT-technologies and the way they may be used in the home environment.
1. Introduction nformation and communication technology (ICT) plays an important role in our society. Technologies are developing at a fast pace and will increasingly influence our lives in the near future. No company, entrepreneur, media company, school or hospital can do without computers. These computers are more and more linked by private or public networks. In households in particular, ICT, such as new multimedia-enabled mobile phones, digital televisions and PCs are being used with comparatively little knowledge on the part of the scientific community as to how they are being used, who has access to them and what the effects and consequences are with regard to social and media behaviour. The PC and its portable variety the laptop computer occupy an important place in everyday life, not only as far as the working environment is concerned, but also with regard to leisure, i.e. computer games, access to archives of television programmes, downloading mp3 ± and dvd ± files. Viewers can use an intelligent box (the set-top box) to access interactive digital information using their television sets. The telephone has evolved from a simple apparatus in the hall into something that is apparently so
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precious to a great number of people that they cannot relinquish it for even a second and it is used to transmit, for instance, digital photos, ringtones and multimedia messages. ICTs are not only visibly present in our houses, more often than not they are invisible. Washing machines, ironing and sewing machines are becoming ever more intelligent and dependent on their software. In the future, microwave ovens and refrigerators might have a display that enables people to access relevant information from the Internet, for instance about traffic jams, before they leave the house. Research into these new technologies and the way they might be accepted and used in the future is significant to industry (telecom operators, service and both commercial content providers and providers of content as part of an e-commerce trajectory), for policy makers (both within governments and companies) and end-users, i.e. consumers. In order for the research to be actually used by these actors, an analysis of potential technological developments in combination with knowledge with regard to the possible acceptance and usage is required. Communication scientists, more than product and business developers, can play an important role because they are in a position to translate lessons regarding the use and adoption of media into opportunities for new emerging technologies (Flichy, 1995). The objective of this paper is to illustrate how certain futures research methods, in this case technological forecasting in combination with scenario analysis, can be used to develop insight into the acceptance and use of ICT in the domestic environment in the year 2010. First, we will pay closer attention to the various methods of futures research. Second, we will discuss two methods, technological forecasting and scenarios, in more detail, and show how these two methods can be combined to make relevant and significant claims. Third, we present the results of a technology-forecast analysis aimed at the adoption and use of ICT in the home environment in the year 2010. We will present research conducted among experts which will serve as a validation of relevant trends. We will then describe four possible scenarios for the year 2010 and show in what way the results of technological forecasting can be used in scenarios to provide insight into what the adoption and use of relevant technologies and services might be. 2. Methods of futures research Futures research (e.g. scenario analysis, judgmental forecasting, technological forecasting) can be defined as the complete range of methods that can be used to look at the future. These methods can be categorized according to their function (May, 1996), whether they are predictive, non-predictive or a combination of both (Fowles, 1978) or whether they can be used for operational, tactical or strategic goals (Van der Duin et al., 2001). Different methods are increasingly being combined (Masini, 2002). Building
scenarios usually starts with carrying out a technology, social and economic trend analysis. Quantitative and judgmental forecasting are often used to complement each other (Masini, 2002). Choosing the right method is very important for the practical and future use of the results of these kinds of study (Galtung, 2003). Factors that might influence the choice of a specific method are: the level of uncertainty, the time horizon, the type of variables under analysis (Van der Duin et al., 2001), participation, duration and costs (Miles et al., 2002), and phase of innovation (Twiss, 1992). There is a certain relationship between these various factors. For instance, a certain correlation between the uncertainty with regard to technological developments and the accuracy of results based on the use of specific prediction methods can be observed (Ascher, 1978) (see Figure 1). If technologies are merely discussed in scientific panels, R&D environment and initial stages of the innovation process, any prediction regarding their future adoption and use is rather problematic. Once a product or service is introduced on the market, it is easier to gain a better insight in its potential by analysing the results of market surveys. Quantitative, econometric predictions can be drafted on the basis of data concerning the initial adoption and use. The uncertainty, with regard to the product or service, is reduced considerably, but it is as yet unclear whether a product will be warmly received by consumers and whether initial adoption trends among innovators will persist. The ``right’’ prediction horizon varies depending on the industry under investigation (Van Doorn and Van Vught, 1978; Albright, 2002). Media industry has a comparatively short prediction horizon, while the oil industry uses a prediction horizon exceeding 20 years. 2.1 Technological forecasting Technological forecasting is an exploration of developments in the technology domain in which the possible applicability
Figure 1 Ð Relationship between the level of uncertainty regarding technologies and the accuracy of predictions
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is assessed over a longer term (Coates et al., 2001). In other words, technological forecasting can be used at the initial stage of the innovation process, when decision makers and other people involved want to know what the important trends might be in the years to come. Technological forecasting is used in many cases, ranging from vision development on the future to investment decisions with regard to emerging technologies. Technological forecasting offers a comprehensive view of the technologies already available, of emerging technologies and of the way these technologies influence or substitute each other (Porter et al., 1991). A disadvantage of technology explorations has to do with the fact that they often use long-term time horizons, resulting in an increased level of uncertainty and a corresponding low level of accuracy when it comes to the predictions being made. Scenarios are generally considered good alternatives to technological forecasting. 2.2 Scenarios People who use scenarios assume that it is impossible to make straightforward predictions and that it is wise to picture various alternative futures. Scenarios are expectations regarding possible futures that provide insight into the way the future may develop based on clearly defined assumptions concerning the relationship between relevant developments. Usually, these relevant developments are based on input from other methods of futures research, such as, for instance, trend analysis. Relevant trends serve as the primary axes along which the alternative scenarios are constructed. A well-carried-out scenario study addresses criteria such as plausibility (scenarios are not science fiction), consistency (prevent combining mutually incompatible trends), completeness (scenarios are more than a variation on a single theme) and the validity of the underlying assumptions (Van der Heijden, 1996). Scenario thinking broadens people’s horizon by showing them alternatives and allowing them to rehearse and learn from the future (Schwartz, 1991; Godet, 2000; Masini and Vasquez, 2000). Scenarios can best be used in situations with high uncertainty when managers or decision makers feel that the world is changing but are not sure in which direction. Scenarios enhance their ability to anticipate possible future developments that might affect their business. Scenarios allow for multiple views regarding possible future developments (Godet, 2000; Wilson, 2000). The scenario method is regarded as an instrument that can assist decision makers very well in their decision-making process. Famous is the example of oil company Shell who were able to anticipate in the oil crisis of 1973 by also including in their set of scenarios the possibility of a shortage of the supply of oil because of political tensions in the Middle East and the subsequent rise of the oil prices (Schwartz, 1991; Kleiner, 1996). Ringland (1998) also gives a list of international companies who have benefited from using scenarios in developing plans for the future. Although private
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companies often address societal, cultural and political aspects of the future (and their impact on business) in their scenarios governments and other non-profit organisations are also active in developing scenarios for developing policy (see, for instance, Eames et al., 2000). 2.3 Combining the two methods Technological forecasting provides valuable input for scenarios, as it is important to be aware of all the technical possibilities when constructing scenarios (Coates et al., 2001). The ``completeness’’ criterion has the advantage that on the one hand scenarios present accurate pictures of the technical possibilities, while on the other hand making it clear why it is that certain technologies have a greater chance of becoming successful than others. By giving the human factor a prominent place in the scenarios, technology is given a ``face’’, which allows us to make it clear what services will be used in the future. In our vision, technology is nothing more than an ``enabler’’ and it is only when technologies fit the needs and attitudes of consumers that they can be incorporated into a clear picture of the future. The choice in favour of a particular method to formulate predictions regarding the adoption and use of ICT is determined by the development stage of a given technology. When looking at the year 2010, the only thing we can say for sure is that the products and services that will be used in households by that time are now either in their start-up phase or even in the embryonic stage of their development. Between a technology, i.e. the ``bare’’ knowledge that it is available in a conceptual or experimental format in universities or R&D laboratories, and a service that a large number of people will utilize on a daily basis, is a world of difference and an ocean of time. Technology explorations show us how the technology as such is developing, but it offers much less information regarding its possible applications. An example is UMTS, the third generation (3G) mobile communication. At the moment we can make reasonably accurate predictions as to in which period this much-discussed technology will become available. It is less clear, however, what the explicit services are that will be marketed on the basis of this technology (location-based or multimedia services), let alone how consumers will respond to and adopt these services. To combine the two methods discussed above (at least) two conditions need to be fulfilled (Van der Duin et al., 2000): (1) Technological forecasting and scenarios must have the same level of abstraction. When technological forecasting focuses on the adoption and use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) it makes little sense to combine it with the trend of globalisation because the two phenomena have little in common. When we combine PDAs with the need of consumers to be able to access information ``anywhere, anyplace’’ we can develop an idea as to how this trend might affect the use and shape of PDAs.
(2) Technological forecasting and scenarios must have the same unit of analysis. When scenarios address the possible political future of a country and when they are based on scenario axes ``more vs less freedom’’ and ``centralisation vs decentralisation of political power’’ it will not be possible to apply them to the use of new mobile devices. If both conditions are met, the relationship between technological forecasting and scenarios can be interpreted as follows. Scenario development starts where technological forecasting ends. Technological forecasting is an extrapolation of developments that begin at some point in the past (the line running diagonally from ``2000’’). We assume that these developments will continue for some time into the future (the dotted line). However, after a certain length of time it becomes impossible to extend the line (or development) because there is too much uncertainty (see also Porter et al., 1996, p. 50). From this point onwards, scenarios (the four diverging lines) can be used to explore the future. The horizontal line shows that for different variables the moment at which there is too much uncertainty to extrapolate may vary. For example, forecasts concerning the birth rate are usually relatively accurate for a time horizon of 15 years, whereas it becomes increasingly difficult to make accurate predictions concerning the number of mobile telephones beyond a two-year time frame (Figure 2). Thus far we have described how we deal with technological forecasting and scenarios. In the next section we will illustrate how we collected the data we used to develop technology forecasts and discuss the main results. 3. Technological forecasting for 2010 We collected data for technological forecasting with regard to ICT in households through: desk research on developments in technological domain; and brainstorm sessions with selected experts in the fields of technology and communication, with an emphasis on expertise regarding
Figure 2 Ð Combining technological forecasting and scenarios in time
adoption and use behaviour, organised to validate the major trends. 3.1 Desk research Fundamental technological developments, often in the field of physics, electronics and microelectronics, facilitate products and services that can be accessed and used by everyone, independent of carrier, location and time. At the hardware level key developments are digitisation, increased processing power, microelectronics, reduced use of energy, miniaturisation, technical integration and the use of sensors. At the software level the focus is on compression techniques, increased intelligence, agent technology, security and an improved interface between man and machine (Bouwman et al., 2000). Hardware and peripheral equipment will become increasingly interchangeable. TV, PC and telephone will follow their own specific paths towards a multimedia and even VRstation (Biocca and Levy, 1995). Eventually the equipment will be characterised especially by its portability and the possibility to access both speech and moving images. Dependence on broadband (mobile) data communication networks will increase (Anderson et al., 2002). As far as networks are concerned, we see a development towards ever-increasing capacity within the transportation network. The consumer is more interested in the access network. There, we find a continuing increase in choice and flexibility. Consumers wanting direct access to the telecommunication infrastructure have at their disposal a variety of equipment that is linked to a specific network, be it the telephone network, the cable network or the mobile telephone network. The link between equipment and the type of network being used becomes ever less obvious. The telephone apparatus can be connected to a telephone line, a cable, or a data communication network. The network used to access a service will no longer automatically be the delivery network. This provides opportunities for intermediary network management services. Through these services it will be possible, for example, to order a movie by telephone, to have it delivered through xDSL at a local server for later viewing, or directly via optical fibre cables for direct consumption (Bouwman et al., 2000). The next generation of these services will be more intuitive and there will be a trend towards real hypermedia. This intuitive character is expressed in all forms of usage (Dertouzous, 1997). Information services will be characterised by their multimedia nature. People will no longer look for textual information, but they will visit virtual reality sites and communities. The abundance of information produces selection mechanisms such as push media in combination with highly improved intelligent agents that increasingly use individual and collective user profiles (Brown and Duguid, 2000; Dertouzous, 2001; Kurzweil, 1999). Communication services develop from speech-oriented systems into systems where people can see one another
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``real time’’. In addition, communication services will focus more on the management of communication flows and on intelligent ways to solve coordination problems (Doherty and Miller, 2000). Transaction services will play an increasingly important role and by the year 2010 will have a variety of forms: e-commerce, m-commerce, and c-commerce and communication channels will be adapted to user needs depending on the phase in the transaction process. Entertainment services will, to a large degree, have acquired the characteristics of personalised and individualised interactive game-like services. Broadcast service will, to a certain extent, be replaced by on-demand services. 3.2 Brainstorm The results of the technology forecast were validated in several brainstorm sessions. These brainstorm sessions were supported by an electronic group decision support system. In all, 28 experts took part. They were selected to guarantee a diversity of perspectives, and thus to promote the independence, accuracy and validity of the results. The experts came from the business community, the scientific community and from user groups such as the elderly, immigrants and artists. The participants were presented with the following three questions with regard to a ten-year time span: (1) What are the main underlying technologies that will determine the use of ICT? (2) What technologies in the area of ICT will we find in the domestic environment? (3) What services will people use in their domestic environment? 3.3 Fundamental technological trends Personalisation is important: technologies and services in the area of ICT are increasingly geared towards individual demands. The architecture of systems can be increasingly attributed to individual wishes and needs, especially since standardised elements offer the user greater possibilities to arrange the system according to his wishes. Users themselves have more and more control over the way services are being accessed. Various technologies allow users to access the same service and the user’s specific context will determine which is the preferred technology. Wireless and mobile systems are becoming increasingly important. Developments can only be slowed down by a lack of radio spectrum, but that is primarily a political issue. Much is expected, especially from the third and fourth generation mobile systems (UMTS also indicated as 3G and beyond). It is expected that in-home data communication networks, whether or not based on wireless techniques, will play an increasingly important role within the domestic environment as well. It will be important to link applications through networks. There will be a convergence of ICT and household appliances, which is partly made possible by the increasing
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intelligence in networks, facilitated by a central in-house server, and appliances. As far as the man-machine interface is concerned, experts expect a trend towards increased intelligence, whereby information and communication interfaces will be less visible. System interfaces are increasingly being built into existing appliances (embedded systems) and adapted to people’s communication habits. Past behaviour will help determine the choices that are being offered. ICT is integrated in a natural interface. Image, speech, pointing, etc. are important elements in this process, along with agent technologies. 3.4 ICT in 2010 The participants expect PDA-like equipment, as well as built-in intelligence and communication possibilities in existing appliances, to play a significant role in household use. PDAs will serve as a medium for telephony, agenda, carrier of electronic money and authentication unit for all kinds of different access systems. In other words, all things that are convenient to carry around will be incorporated into a single electronic PDA-like device. The most advanced form is the incorporation of this type of system in clothing, so-called wearables. These are clothes with stimulators and sensors, and smart coats that can, for example, regulate the temperature. These will be part of the person area network (PAN or 4 G mobile networks). Appliances already being used in the house will more and more be equipped with intelligence. The front door will only open after identification and authentication. Monitoring, security and sensing systems will be a part of the living environment. The heating and lighting units will be remotecontrolled. Various systems will be integrated through home networks. The alarm clock will send a signal to the water cooker or coffee machine. Intelligent fridges and washing machines will be monitored at a distance and if necessary new software will be downloaded to the machines. Intelligent toilet bowls will be able to give advice on healthy life styles on the basis of bio-chemical analysis. Many of the developments surrounding TV and PC assume that the difference between the 3ft and 10ft space will erode, the result of which will be individualised screen machines. Nevertheless, there are generic developments, for instance TVs and PCs the size of a watch and separate developments for the PC and TV. With regard to 3ft space appliances the experts believe that PCs with communication functionality will be widely accepted in 2010. IP-telephony, GroupWare systems, videoconferencing will be standard PC add-ons. The PC interface will be based more on speech, visualisation and the ability to share information in real time. The interface has a multi-functionally layered structure designed to match the user’s experience. This development that can be compared to the levels already found in computer games. The PC will thus become a learning system adapting itself to the user.
In terms of the 10ft space, television technology, the experts predict a trend towards flat and large screens and screens that suggest depth. Where traditional television is concerned, it is all about improvement of the display quality, to as high a level of quality as is possible and the improvement of the natural character of sound. Needless to say, TV allows for various online and on-demand services, received through a so-called multimedia socket. For the control of modern television sets, things like smart rooms, where the user’s movements can be analysed and interpreted (intelligent gesture), and speech recognition are envisaged. Furthermore, programme preferences are analysed and used as a basis for suggestions. 3.5 Domestic work and care in 2010 In terms of domestic work, much is expected of agent technologies, for example an automatically produced shopping list. The agent technologies can play a role, for instance, in budget control and in developing an efficient and effective purchasing policy. Based on the items available certain recipes may be suggested. The experts do point out, however, that shopping also has a social side. Children, sick people and animals can increasingly be cared for from a distance by using advanced communication systems. It is already possible to monitor children through remote observation. As far as health care is concerned, all kinds of support and tele-care are expected. One can consult one’s physician from a distance, possibly using videoconferencing and sensor-aided remote monitoring. The experts see possibilities in the area of monitoring systems, intelligent systems for the distribution of medication and so on. Much is also expected of the use of electronic patient files in combination with administration. In all these cases, the technology already exists, but the industry, as yet, does not seem to be able to organise these types of applications. In general, we can say that information and communication services will make it possible to coordinate domestic services from a distance, but also to outsource them. Household agenda management is another possible application, as is home management (managing the processes in homes). Obviously, the end-user has to be in a position to configure these kinds of services. At a very small scale, we are talking about penny-tags (devices designed to determine the location of things on the basis of miniature electronics that indicate where certain items are located). In general it can be concluded that ICT is going to play an increasingly important role. The traditional distinction between telephone, television and PC and the underlying infrastructure is going to blur and that is going to affect consumer behaviour in general, but it will also affect more specifically the way people are going to deal with media. Media are going to be an integral part of people’s behaviour and will be less controlled by media and content providers. Some of the technologies, as we mentioned earlier, are already available, others are at the brink of being introduced
onto the market, while others yet are still in an early R&D phase. Nevertheless, it is important to see how these trends can be incorporated into user scenarios, either to assess the viability of these technologies or to assess the way users are going to reinvent these technologies and model them to their own preferences. Before we can integrate technological forecasting with the scenarios, the first question we have to answer is what the use of ICT in the domestic environment will look like in 2010. 4. Scenarios for 2010 To answer the question from the last sentence from section 3.5 we will use a set of scenarios that have been developed by KPN Research in 2000 (Van der Duin, 2000). Although the scenarios originally had a time horizon up to 2005, experience with other scenarios in all kinds of projects for KPN showed that the basic assumptions and scenario axis could also be applied to 2010. Below we show how we have built the scenarios by describing briefly each step in this building process. This building process is partly based on Schwartz (1991) and Van der Heijden (1996). The first step, after formulating the main question for the scenarios as introduced in the section above, is to compile a list of possible actors and factors that influence the outcome of this question. To do this, we can use the information we have obtained from technological forecasting. Actors are, for instance, producers of peripheral equipment, service and content providers, government and other legislative bodies, etc. Note that this selection does not include end-users of ICT. When conducting a scenario analysis, we want to find out what impact external forces have on the individual user and his or her communication behaviour. Consequently, the scenarios serve as a way to look ``outside-in’’, rather than ``inside-out’’, where the user is being projected in a possible or predicted future. Relevant factors are technological developments such as the convergence of technologies, economic developments such as growing inflation (macro-level), mergers and takeovers (meso-level) and companies’ distribution strategies (micro-level), socio-cultural trends such as ageing, etc. The second step is to come up with a classification of factors in such a way that a ``scenario framework’’ is created. We can do this by determining the level of uncertainty for every trend on the one hand and the impact it has on the central question. By crossing the two extremes of the two trends with the highest level of uncertainty and the largest impact we will produce a coordinate system with four quadrants (Van der Heijden, 1996). The third step is filling in the four quadrants in the scenario. This involves more than merely listing a number of trends and indicating the direction in which they are heading. It is important to establish a so-called ``scenario logic’’. This can be seen as the rationale behind the scenario. Not only will the scenario describe a path from the present to the
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future, but it will also describe the dynamics of the final situation. It can be seen as a causal diagram in which the axes serve as important starting variables on the basis of which the status and direction of other variables and trends are determined. The final step involves the perfection of the scenario’s stories and a further description of the effects of these stories on our central question, what the use of ICT in the domestic environment will look like in 2010. In the case of the KPN scenarios we ended up with the following axes (see Figure 3): & Individual vs collective. The difference between individualists and collectivists lies in the degree to which they let their own interests prevail above those of the group to which they belong. Individualists have a strong consciousness of self and put their own needs first whenever possible without giving much thought to the group’s needs. Collectivists on the other hand are more conscious of the people around them, and strive to achieve a harmonious balance between individual and collective interests. They feel inextricably involved in broader social issues, and this is reflected in their interest in what happens to other people. & Active vs passive. The difference between active and passive people lies in the degree to which they explore and change their environment rather than conform to external influences. Passive people, on the other hand, tend to conform to external influences and values. They simply wait for things to happen and suppress their internal impulses. The results of this is the construction of four scenarios for 2010 which are summarised below (Van der Duin et al., 1999): (1) Adventure. The ``adventure’’ scenario of 2010 is based on egocentric fun-lovers that, above all, crave more excitement, variety and pleasure in their lives. They want to have a good time with lots of thrills. Life is a fairy tale and society is the theme park where it is played out. Everyone is shamelessly selfish and unwilling to conform
Figure 3 Ð Scenario framework
to established social patterns. They are even less prepared to make any kind of sacrifice for others. ``Flexibility’’ and ``mobility’’ are the catchwords. Life is all about keeping on the move and it unfolds against the background of a booming economy. These are the ``roaring 2000s’’, with economic growth and stock exchange listings exceeding all conceivable limits. The globalisation of the economy is taking place at breakneck speed. Companies consist of dynamic, independent networks. (2) Budget. In 2010, the European economy is facing problems. The economic bubble has burst, resulting in a period of economic and social decay. Many companies have gone bankrupt and the housing market has collapsed. As a result, economic growth is far more sluggish than it was in the 1990s. People work relatively hard at highly irregular hours in an attempt to turn the tide. With hard work, thriftiness and an occasional lucky break, most people manage to keep their heads above water. Money is a constant worry. The most striking aspect of this scenario is people’s extreme priceconsciousness, with everyone attempting to squeeze the most out of every last penny. In this world, certain traits are crucial, such as the ability to calculate rapidly and accurately, to be assertive during negotiations, and to network successfully. An extensive network of contacts has enabled people to establish and maintain a system of mutual support, which has all the features of an informal economy. (3) Comfort. The keywords to describe this scenario in 2010 are ``comfort’’ and ``usefulness’’. Its catchwords are ``reduced complexity’’, ``time saving’’ and ``rationalisation’’. After the turn of the century, society responded to an increasingly complex world by expressing a collective desire for control and comfort. Consumers no longer want to choose from a whole range of options, but want companies and organisations to provide products and services that are fully tailored to their needs. The most popular organisations are those that provide a sound service and do the thinking for their customers. Resolving day-to-day problems, providing security, dealing with problems for consumers; these are the services that rate high on the busy consumer’s list of priorities. Consumers are extremely demanding and want to be waited on hand and foot. High quality and service at affordable prices are key requirements. (4) Durable. This scenario of 2010 focuses on the quality of life and is opposed to the idea that progress usually means ``more’’. People are tired of innovations and have slotted into a new mindset, giving them more time to enjoy nature and each other. Success is no longer measured according to income and possessions, but to well-being and social behaviour. Rejecting the constant desire for more has become a valued way of thinking.
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People no longer want to be manipulated by advertising and promotional campaigns. Consumerism is less rampant. More and more people feel it is time to re-examine the consumer society. They no longer want to be pushed, but want to live life at a slower pace. Peace and quiet are what counts, not joining in the rat race. 5. Combining technological forecasting with scenarios We will combine the results of the forecast regarding equipment, networks and services with the scenarios so that we can see to what extent the scenarios enrich technological forecasting. For each scenario we will briefly describe what those ICT categories might look like after 2010 and how they might be used. 5.1 Equipment: TV Currently many households have a stereo TV with teletext connected to a VCR or DVD player. Technological forecasting states that in 2010 there will be households which will have TVs with flat digital wide screens and built in set-top boxes. However, this forecast fails to give us any idea about the (approximate) number of households where this will be the case, how this TV will be used and which role it will play in the household. Combing the technological forecasts with the four scenarios should give us more insight in possible adoption and use patterns: (1) Adventure. Since the ``adventure’’ scenario consists of households (many of them single person households) that have a very innovative attitude, an interactive digital TV is indeed a regular phenomenon. People’s homes are filled with TV screens and some already have TV with ambient technology-type of services, that is to say that wherever they are in the house, the screens ``recognize’’ them and immediately start broadcasting their favourite TV shows or give information regarding these programmes. People who cannot afford the ambient technology, have intelligent agents programmed in their TV set which keep them up to date about shows to come and provide links to other types of media. TV is no longer a large, fixed device situated only in people’s homes, they also watch TV on their mobile devices. Satellites are very popular and watching the 6 o’clock tango show broadcast in Argentina is just as normal as the 8 o’clock news provided by Dutch broadcasters. All this does not imply that people in this scenario watch TV all evening, that would be too boring to them. Because of their busy lives they only watch selectively which also means that the TV guide follows them and the ``adventurous’’ TV watcher decides which (by an intelligent agent) pre-selected programmes his TV will show, making use of all kinds of new interactive and digital services, such as recording live broadcasts simultaneously to ensure that the viewer does not miss a thing.
(2) Budget. Owing to bad economic times people are not very eager to adopt all kinds of new technology so the good old TV set is still one of the most important sources of entertainment in this scenario. Screens have almost the same size as ten years before and the remote control has gained some extra intelligence. People are not prepared to invest a great deal of money in sets with special features because they consider them to be simple devices suited merely to transmit TV signals. TV and VCR/DVD players as yet are not integrated, nor is TV integrated with other devices such as the PC or telephone. Because people are mostly busy solving their own problems they do not have a very broad social and cultural orientation: national programmes are more popular than foreign ones. End-users are constantly making deliberate choices on what to spend money and they, therefore, only want to pay for those channels that they watch regularly. There is relatively little demand for exotic and interactive TV channels. TV is considered amusement, and a way for people to forget their everyday worries, at a price they can afford. (3) Comfort. As people consider all the various communication and information devices in their busy households too much of a nuisance, a device has been developed that combines TV, VCR/DVD and PC. The result is a kind of central controlling unit that is used not only for watching TV but also for sending e-mails, video-mails, shopping, agenda coordination and domestic services such as regulating the in-house temperature. The display screen more than ever before occupies a place at the centre of the household and it combines many functions of which saving time and making the daily routine as easy as possible are two of the most important ones ± more important than watching television. Just as in the ``adventure’’ scenario there are TV screens in many places in the house. Most of them are nicely designed flat screens with easy user interfaces (such as speech recognition), guaranteeing up-to-date information tailored to the user’s needs. And, at last, the VCR/DVD player has become a device that everybody can control! (4) Durable. Watching TV is a family affair and parents try to make sure that their children do not watch too much. Because many people value other things, such as having many personal (and local) contacts, adults also try not to watch too much TV, as that may hinder those personal contacts. And if they do watch TV they do so in a very deliberate way: information programmes are the most popular ones. Many TVs have ``filters’’, i.e. V-chips that prevent children from seeing pornographic and violent programmes, etc. An important function of the TV is to provide background information regarding TV programmes. Because people watch TV in a conscientious way, it does not occupy a central place in
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their homes, but is located somewhere in a corner so that people who really want to watch have to make an effort to do so. 5.2 Networks: local loop (telephony) Nowadays almost every household has a telephone connection (a copper wire). Technological forecasting expects that in 2010 there will be a huge competition between various fixed and mobile infrastructures and technologies with high capacity, ranging from telephonebased xDSL, through fibre-optic links for cable to broadband mobile services (3G and beyond). We will show that these technologies can be varied based on the four scenarios. For each scenario we will describe shortly how those networks and matching services might look after 2010: (1) Adventure. The competition between fixed and mobile telephony is won by mobile (3G and beyond). All the innovative ``adventurous’’ end-users just love 3G and its services because of its huge bandwidth and flexibility, which offer a wide range of possibilities regarding all kinds of information services. 3G has become the dominant mode of mobile communication (especially for business people and youngsters) and in the average household we see a lot of Wireless Local Loop (WLL) or Wireless LAN techniques. Rather than focusing on the quality of the services, end-users are very demanding in terms of the type and amount of services that these technologies allow them to access. By using a variety of services, brought to them by all kinds of companies who looking for a market niche, consumers can distinguish themselves from other people. Mobile devices have really become a way of life to which people are almost addicted. (2) Budget. The development of network technologies is, to a large extent, determined by economic motives. People do not feel that mobile has enough added value to warrant paying more money. As a result the competition between fixed and mobile is to a large degree decided in favour of fixed lines. Mobile turned out to be too expensive for many people and the communication needs did not grow at the pace they were expected to at the start of the new millennium. Most people settle for being reachable. People’s mobility did not grow all that much either, which meant that there was no great demand for mobile services. People are happy with their fixed copper lines and have resisted the operator’s attempts to sell them new mobile services. They stick to 2 and 2.5G. (3) Comfort. The need of end-users for easy and high quality communication connections has resulted in a situation whereby the competition between fixed and mobile has ended in a draw. End-users are quite content with the combination of fixed and mobile communication and the easy-to-use services that combination makes possible. The most important criteria for end-users are high bandwidth and high quality (expressed in better reachability and less redundancy). They are also willing
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to pay more for that because they value the extra comfort. Optical fibre has in many places substituted for the copper wire because of the extra bandwidth that is needed for all the information services and because of the fact that people can afford it. (4) Durable. Fear of radiation has had a negative impact on mobile communication as compared to fixed networks. People are trying to balance their digital and physical communication. In addition, end-users pay a great deal of attention to the health risk of their communication device and connection. People are locally oriented, which means that their mobility has remained roughly at the same level. As a result mobile communication, already having to deal with the problem of radiation, grows at a relatively low rate, if at all. People are trying to balance their professional and private activities. To avoid traffic jams and unnecessary travelling, people increasingly work at home and to do so they need sufficient bandwidth, not for amusement but for serious work. 5.3 Services: entertainment Nowadays, entertainment plays an important role in the diffusion of new products and services, mainly because it turns out that increasingly the early adopters are young people (Rogers, 1962) and they value entertainment more than other aspects such as functionality or user friendliness. Also, the entertainment industry is growing very fast (Howkins, 2001). Nevertheless, entertainment, for example, in the form of computer games or gambling, most of the time is consumed on stand-alone machines or in a non-interactive way, although in Korea the so-called PC-Bangs, where interactive networked games are played by groups of youngsters, are very popular (Stewart and Park Choi, 2003). Another development, often described as the ``experience economy’’ (Pine and Gilmore, 1999) means that entertainment is not only presented by companies as a service in itself but that it is also used as a way to sell other products or services: (1) Adventure. Because fun is one of the keywords in this scenario one can imagine that entertainment is of crucial importance! People are constantly looking for more and new types of entertainment, such as gaming, to satisfy their fast-growing appetite for entertainment. Interactivity, personalisation and multimedia are necessary conditions and it would seem as though people cannot get enough. Killer-apps of most new products and services contain a high amount of entertainment and people are very fond of games that they can largely build themselves which means that these products are to a much larger extent tailor-made. Games are played to meet new people. Television is considered a passive and boring medium. Although this scenario does focus on the egocentric, games are often played with and against other people; playing games on your own is considered dull. On the other hand,
competing with others allows people to stand out expressing their individuality. People do not play games just in one place; because the ``need’’ to play games can come up anywhere, they want to have the possibility to play games anywhere. This means that it is a common thing to see people playing interactive games on mobile devices in the streets and on the train. (2) Budget. In this scenario entertainment is seen as something that is synonymous with wasting money. The only purpose entertainment can serve is to forget the harsh reality for a few moments and to experience some old-fashioned happiness. Entertainment ranks lowest as a motive to buy after value for money and utility. As entertainment is something of a taboo, not many people are seen enjoying it in public. Instead, they will do so in private. People prefer watching a soccer game on a payper-view basis to taking an expensive trip to a stadium. Games are still being played the old-fashioned way and Monopoly is still the most popular game (perhaps this has something to do with the suggestion of being rich and owning streets and houses). (3) Comfort. In this scenario entertainment is mainly viewed from a family perspective. This means that, for instance, entertaining games should not only be fun to play but should also have an educational value. Products and services can have two (or more) functions simultaneously, which saves time. In this respect it is important for the entertainment to have a certain level of quality, not only from an ethical point of view but also in the sense that entertainment should be more than just plain fun. Watching a television show should be a nice family activity just as playing games on a TV set which has integrated many PC functionalities. (4) Durable. In the durable scenario, entertainment is something which one does not enjoy on one’s own but together with one’s friends, family, school or the community to which one belongs. Entertainment should have an educational or cultural value, allowing people to learn something about the world in which they live. Entertainment is seen as a way to communicate and establish contact with other people rather than a pleasant way to pass the time. Playing games on modern mobile devices and PCs is not a goal in itself but is only considered worthwhile when it enhances the educational and entertainment value. 6. Conclusion and discussion The main reason to combine technological forecasting and scenarios is that this combination offers a number of advantages over the isolated use of the two separate techniques. These advantages are linked to both techniques. By including specified technological developments the scenarios are given more detail. Most scenarios focus on the use of technology or the attitudes companies adopt with
respect to investment in technology rather than on what the development of a specific technology will look like. Adding detailed information concerning possible technological developments enriches the scenario stories. Many scenarios only contain a picture of, for instance, society at a particular point in the future. But it is very important for the scenarios to be plausible, so that it is also clear how, in this case, society will develop between the present and that point in the future. Technological forecasting can serve as a kind of roadmap for the scenarios. As much as the scenarios are enriched by the use of technological forecasting, they in turn acquire greater depth from the context provided by the scenarios, obtaining a more specified meaning or goal. Of course, technological forecasting focuses mainly on technology and not so much on its use (embodied in products and services) or on the users themselves. Scenarios can give technological forecasting a ``face’’ by picturing possible future users and the way they handle the products. Because technological forecasting is being supplemented by a set of scenarios, the technology becomes more real and to a certain extent this helps prevent the common mistake of making erroneous predictions. In other words, the forecast acquires a broader perspective which makes it also more valuable for decision making. Scenarios make it easier for decision makers to use technological forecasting in their decision-making processes. Technological forecasting focuses exclusively on a single outcome and often does not assess the risks and uncertainties surrounding a specific decision. In scenario analysis it is common to use the concept of ``wind tunnelling’’, that is to say, to test several decisions, for instance with regard to the allocation of R&D budgets, product development projects or corporate strategies, in different scenarios, and it can be used, for instance, by developers of peripheral equipment, like Philips or Ericsson. Scenario analysis allows the robustness of a decision to be tested because a certain decision can be analysed in a number of scenarios. For instance, a reduction of investments in innovation would be a very bad decision in the ``adventure’’ scenario because consumers value companies that constantly come up with new products and services. In the ``budget’’ scenario this decision would yield better results. By assessing various possible decisions in all the scenarios it becomes clear which idea is most likely to be successful in the various scenarios and how uncertain specific decisions might be in the worlds depicted in possible scenarios. The scenarios can be used as a tool to assess the risk of decisions and to determine under what conditions certain decisions can have positive or negative consequences for society, the business community as a whole or a specific company. In addition to helping us gain more insight into possible future developments in various domains of our society, scenarios or scenario thinking can help companies cope with uncertainty.
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Furthermore, by combining scenarios for different related technologies, such as peripheral equipment, networks and entertainment services we can create a more coherent and consistent picture of possible futures and indicate the interdependencies between the various domains. Combined with ``wind tunnelling’’, technological forecasting together with scenarios make a powerful decision-making tool. By applying this tool to companies involved in media and communication we are able to show that the scenarios can have different consequences for those companies involved, not only in terms of their strategy and the competences they need to carry out that strategy but also with regard to the relationship to each other. For instance, in the ``adventure’’ scenario the strategy of ``product leadership’’ is important for every company but for a content provider that means renewing its content as often as possible while a broadcasting company constantly has to produce new TV shows, combining all the various forms of content in an exciting and intelligent way. The relationship between them will become more competitive because they both will have enough opportunities to choose suppliers. As a result, they have to look for new ways to work together which probably mean that linear concepts with the kind of steady relationships expressed in ``value chains’’ are no longer sufficient. In the ``comfort’’ scenario this will be different. Companies will strive to deliver as much comfort as possible to their customers and try to offer one-stop-shopping, offering tailormade products and services. For broadcasting companies this will mean that they must focus not only on broadcasting TV programmes, but they also have to try to be active in other fields such as the Internet. For content providers it will mean that the content they offer should have a more mixedmedia character, in other words their content must be accessible using various types of media. As far as relationships are concerned, the ``comfort’’ scenario will force companies to cooperate very closely to make one-stopshopping possible. This close cooperation might even result in big mergers and acquisitions. Of course, the use of scenarios is not without its risks, which is why we chose to combine it with technology forecasting. Although many scenario projects are successful (see section 2.2), there are also many that fail. This can, for instance, be due to a lack of diversity with regard to the input. In those cases scenarios do not provide additional or new information. Another problem can be a lack of involvement on the part of clients who may be disinclined to use the scenarios because they feel the scenarios are insufficiently relevant to their business. With regard to the construction of (corporate) strategies, the ``wind tunnelling’’ exercise may result in a very broadly formulated strategy (``we do everything for everybody for the lowest price and the highest quality’’) which lacks the focus required to be really successful in business (Porter, 1996). It also fails to take into account that companies operate and formulate their strategy
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in a situation of economic scarcity, which means that they do not have the economic and organisational resources to carry out those broad and generalised strategies.
1 In this article we use the term ``futures research’’. Other terms for looking at the future include: foresight, forecasting or futures studies. We prefer to use the term futures research because of its comprehensive character. Foresight refers often only to looking at the future as carried out by and for governments; forecasting in general refers to just predictive methods of looking at the future; and futures studies is often found in relation to specific topics such as sustainability and green politics. 2 KPN Research was, until 2003, the R&D organisation of KPN, the Dutch incumbent telecom operator. Currently it is a department of TNO, a Dutch research institute, and is called TNO Telecom.
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