Alaska's Embrace of Digital Opportunities

Alaska's Embrace of Digital Opportunities

Ping Lan (University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA) and David C. Yen (Miami University, USA)
Copyright: © 2005 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-417-0.ch008
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Abstract

There have been a very limited number of systematic studies of how a region is turning digital opportunities into a development force. In theory, major advances in information and communication technology (ICT) have successfully transformed traditional businesses and markets, revolutionized learning and knowledge-sharing, generated global information flows, and empowered citizens and communities in new ways to redefine governance (Afuah, 2003; Mullaney et al., 2003). At a regional level, this “digital revolution” could offer enormous opportunities to support sustainable local prosperity, and thus help to achieve the broader development goals (DOT Force, 2001). Alaska is one state that can be positioned to take advantage of Internet and e-commerce technologies. Isolated from the U.S. main economic centers and heavily reliant on the export of commodities in its economy, e-commerce or business via the Internet is an ideal choice for Alaska. However, the available statistics do not support this claim. Most economic indicators show a downward trend in Alaska since 1995, in spite of the fact that the federal government expenditure has been increasing (ASTF, 2002). This chapter is dedicated to measuring the usage of the Internet in Alaska. It hypothesizes that geographical limitations help a region like Alaska embrace ICT and its applications without much hesitation, but also hinders the region to fully exploit the potential of ICT due to the limitations of resources. A large-scale survey was conducted to reveal the characteristics of Internet usage among individuals, government agencies, local communities, and private firms in Alaska. This research is of interest in two aspects: It could offer help for policymakers and enterprises within Alaska to realize the potential development brought about by the current digital revolution, and it could help enterprises outside Alaska to target this market more effectively. Theoretically, it could shed light on issues related to technology adoption and local innovation. Besides that, the platform-dependent approach used in this research can be applied in a broader context.

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