The Digital Economy: What's it all about?

By Ricky Bartlett

The ‘Make the Web’ zone at this year’s Campus Party in London has been designed in order to equip young people with the necessary skills required to play a more constructive role in the progression of the web. Ultimately this will lead to more people working within a digital economy, but what do we mean when we say digital economy and how will it evolve?

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development states that the Digital Economy, also referred to as the Internet Economy, is defined as covering, ”the full range of our economic, social and cultural activities supported by the internet and related information and communication technologies”. Without getting too bogged down in the particulars, if you do business on the internet, you are a part of the digital economy. As of 2009, the Digital Economy comprised of 7.2% of the Economy of the UK, beating Healthcare, Construction and Education! Taking into consideration the amount of footwork that has to be done in order to earn money in construction compared to that of the internet, it is obviously a very appealing market, however innovation is key.

The fundamental message from this week is to stop consuming and start making the web. What I have seen is normal people wanting to have more control over the internet. By encouraging people to design and construct their own apps and platforms they are going to be making the web a more exciting place to be and the more people doing it the more variety will be available; competition breeds creativity.

Ensuring that the technology is accessible is also a key driver. Many have been put off by the complexities of programming and the associated jargon; having an idea is one thing, implementing it is quite another, but with events such as the Mozilla Foundation and Think Big providing workshops on app building and web making, support and encouragement is at hand. By demystifying the process of creating applications and programs, people will soon find the industry more approachable.

Recent figures show that 2 million people already work in the digital economy and this figure is set to rise. With events such as Canvas Party suitable support is being provided to ensure that, in the future, there will be a digitally literate workforce with the confidence to try new things. This culture of entrepreneurialism can only benefit the digital economy and ensure that the world wide web continues to evolve and excite all of those who use it.

Ricky Bartlett is a social commentator and stand-up comedian. He stars in a monthly podcast called Sketch Heads and is a regular on the London stand-up scene. He also writes guest contributions for a variety of publications, as well as the occasional restaurant review.