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Digital Technology in Later Life

On: 2nd September 2013

A couple of months ago I wrote this post explaining the rationale behind our Life Transitions investment programme.

At the core of that post is our search to understand where the potential designs and uses of digital technology most align with specific social challenges. The intention of this ongoing search is to identify these areas that are ripe for innovations that uses digital tech to address social challenges. For example, where connection is important but distance or time is an issue, digital tech can provide a way to bring people closer together.  Where difficult processes need to be traversed to complete and important task, good design and digital tech can be supportive and useful.  And where gathering many people's ideas, feedback and views is difficult, digital tech can create new ways of generating and presenting such insight.

The exploration into the role of digital in later life set out to continue looking into this question, but with a specific focus on this growing demographic group.  It generated a whole range of fascinating views, but as with the best research, uncovered new insights that have helped with two key areas.

The first was a message that shifted our thinking about the best design of a funding programme: age is not the most useful starting point for catalysing such innovation, and though it will remain an important feature, it is not the best starting, organising principle.   The second is one clear answer to our original question:  Moments of transition are rich for social tech innovation.  They are times where we need to access new information; join or get support from new communities and make sense of new environments.  Digital tech has a long tradition of working well to these aims, so we are looking to support entrepreneurs who can design new tools that support people through these critical moments of change.

There are a number of reasons for publishing this report today . This first is that although it has been an open process and all of the material has been written, reviewed and developed in public, it is useful to collate and publish it in one place so that it is easily accessible to anyone interested in digital technology and older people.  Second, there are lots of useful insights that have been generated, many of which beyond the scope of Nominet Trust’s work, but still incredibly important to those working in this area.  And finally, as part of our Open Access principles, we want to share the sorts of work that goes to inform our investment programmes and decisions.  If you agree or disagree with the content presented, please let us know so that we can develop together a better understanding of how digital technology can be used to create social value.