Digital Transformations: An Introduction
F. Xavier Olleros and Majlinda Zhegu (eds.) Research Handbook on Digital Transformations, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2016, 1-19
20 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2016 Last revised: 25 Oct 2016
Date Written: January 10, 2016
All around us, there are signs that we are entering an era of unprecedented technological and societal change. Online auctions, crowdsourced encyclopedias, open source software and peer-to-peer sharing of music files were early heralds of a new way of organizing human interactions. More recently, scores of fertile new ideas have moved swiftly from futuristic dream to solid reality – think, for example, of Google Earth, free video calls, autonomous vehicles, smart contracts, multi-million-dollar crowdfunding campaigns, wireless 3D scanning of objects, 3D printing of customized human body parts, immersive virtual worlds and augmented reality. At the center of each of these new affordances and alluring possibilities sits a small but vibrant set of digital technologies: microprocessors, sensors, Internet networking, data storage and algorithms. Together, they allow us to datafy and digitize the world. In this introduction, after considering the characteristics that set digitization apart as a general-purpose technology, we will identify some of the benefits and challenges that we can expect from the digital transition in the coming years and we will highlight the institutional and cultural aspects that need to accompany the ongoing technological transformations. We will then introduce the chapters of our handbook.
Keywords: Digitization, digital transformations, general-purpose technologies, technological transformations
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