Some leisure activities are fixed in space or time, and hence cannot
readily be altered by ICT.
For example, a Christmas-based family visit is fixed in time, although
there may be spatial flexibility.
Location-specific outdoor activities, such as hiking in a particular
area, are fixed in
space13, although there may be some temporal flexibility.
Other leisure activities may not be tied to the intrinsic geography
of a place, but to equipment or supplies that are stored there (a
hobby like woodworking, falling in the bottom half of the figure,
is a case in mind) these also are less amenable to ICT alteration.
Other activities (such as reading a book), falling in the upper right
quadrant, are already both location and time independent, which also
renders them less likely to be affected by ICT.
An arrow connects each of the activities in the lower left quadrant
to its ICT-based counterpart.
Generally, these arrows point in a diagonal direction, right and up,
implying greater flexibility in time and space. The arrowhead designates
the frontier of the expanded choice set, with possible intermediate
combinations in between. Some activities in Figure 1 are shown to
have two arrows, indicating different impacts of ICT. Consider the
case of attending a baseball or other spectator sports event. One
possible ICT application allows one to hear on the radio, or see on
TV, the action in real time, while not being there. Another possibility
is to see the action in a time-independent mode via a recorded form.
The three types of leisure activity, that of being there,
being there temporally but not physically and sharing
the activity at a different time and place constitute very different
experiences, as noted by Katz and Dayan (1985).
For substitution to take place, the availability of an ICT-based alternative
is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition. We believe that such
availability is often not nearly as extensive as some would expect.
For example, in a study of one week of activities conducted by each
of 398 residents of Toronto, Canada in 2002-03 (comprising about 7,000
activities altogether), Doherty (2003) found that fully 80% of them
were reported to have only one location at which they could occur.14
Temporal flexibility was higher: only about a quarter of the activities
fell into the lowest range of a temporal flexibility indicator, while
more than half fell into the highest range.
Conversely, as noted in the Introduction, many ICT-based activities
do not have a location-based counterpart as a practical alternative,
but simply would not have occurred otherwise (e.g., listening to a
recorded performance on the radio). These types of activities fall
into Category 2.
The degree of time- and location-independence of an activity may
influence the choice set, but
does not determine choice. A number of studies have investigated factors
adoption of ICT activities such as telecommuting (Mokhtarian and Salomon,
1996), teleconferencing (Button and Maggi, 1994), and teleshopping
(Salomon and Koppelman, 1988). In general, adoption is a function
of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the ICT-based versus
location-based alternatives, taking into account (as mentioned earlier)
that the individual may value a number of factors beyond the surface
ones. Mokhtarian and Salomon (2002) suggest a generic utility function
for evaluating such alternatives, including variables such as the
quality of the information obtained and the social/psychological content
of the alternative. These variables often favor the location-based
form of an activity over its ICT counterpart. Several dimensions relevant
to the choice context and the characteristics of the alternatives
are presented in Section 3.2 below.
3.1.2 Generation of New ICT Activities
ICTs offer opportunities for many new activities, such as playing
games on a mobile phone. If
individuals spend more time on ICT-based activities, it stands to
reason that they are spending
less time on non-ICT-based activities (with the exception noted below).15
To the extent that the foregone activities involved travel, this effect,
like the preceding one, may also reduce travel.
Although the displacement may be immediate, as when an individual
decides at a particular
moment to spend time on an ICT-based activity rather than some other
activity, it can also occur over longer periods of time and more subconsciously
than consciously. For example, when an individual experiences increased
use of the Internet over time, each use specifically replaces another
activity: either the non-ICT version of that activity (the kind of
substitution described in the previous section), or some other activity
altogether (a form of cross-substitution). But most likely that individual
finds it more and more difficult to pinpoint exactly what activity
has been crowded out by Internet use. As a result, the
time displacement of other activities by ICT may be better captured
by measuring longer-term trends in time use than by analyzing individual
choices on particular occasions.
Available data indicate that Internet use and cell phone use have
grown rapidly in recent years.
Given these increases, two questions arise: to what degree have ICT-based
activities crowded out other activities (and to what degree will they
do so in the future), and which activities get crowded out (and will
in the future)?
The degree to which ICT-based activities crowd out other activities
depends on the characteristics of ICT-based activities and the utility
they provide relative to other activities. Characteristics that may
tend to increase the utility of ICT-based activities include location
independence, time independence, and fragmentability (see the dimensions
discussed in Section 3.2 and summarized in Table 3). Utility will,
of course, also depend on the technology. In general, as the technology
improves, the utility of the activity will increase, and the potential
for the ICT-based activity to crowd out other activities will increase.
However, the multitasking ability that comes with many ICT-based
activities means that increased time devoted to these activities does
not necessarily crowd out other activities. For example, when students
talk to friends on their cell phones while walking across campus,
they do not reduce time devoted to other activities,16
rather they do more with the time they have. The characteristics of
location independence, time independence, and fragmentability also
mean that ICT-based activities may get squeezed into the little blocks
of time during the day that are too short or too inconvenient for
other significant activities. In this case, ICT-based activities displace
otherwise wasted time and also enable individuals to do more with
the time they have.
Which activities will get displaced by increasing ICT use may vary
considerably from individual to individual and from activity to activity.
One might expect the activities most likely to be displaced over time
to be those that offer rewards and satisfactions similar to those
of the ICTbased activities that replace them. One might also hypothesize
that the same kinds of activities that are more likely to be replaced
by ICT versions of those activities, as described in the previous
section, are also more likely to be displaced by increases in ICT-based
activities more generally. But the characteristics of the displaced
activity may not play as important a role in this case, given the
unconscious nature of the displacement over time. Increased Internet
use, for example, could be crowding out all kinds of activities, from
doing jigsaw puzzles to attending concerts. Also, as the range of
ICT-based activities increases over time, one type of ICT-based activity
may crowd out another, as, for example, when Internet use leads to
a reduction in TV watching.
3.1.3 ICT-enabled Reallocation of Time to Other Activities
The use of ICT may reduce the time and/or cost required to conduct
activity X (or the travel
associated with X), with the saved time or money used (at least in
part) to engage in activity Y.
For example, the travel time saved by telecommuting, or by videoconferencing
traveling to a meeting, may be spent in part on leisure activities.
The money saved by finding a
low-cost last-minute airfare on the Internet may be spent on other
leisure trips and/or activities.
With respect to this category of impacts, relevant questions include:
To what extent will timesaving ICT applications be adopted? How much
savings will this mean? And how will the savings then be used?
As with the previous two categories, the extent to which time-saving
ICT applications will be
adopted depends on the characteristics of the ICT-based activities
and the utility they provide
relative to other activities. To the extent that the use of ICT in
this context is a choice between
two forms of the same activity (e.g. commuting versus telecommuting
to work), considerations
similar to those mentioned in Section 3.1.1 specifically for leisure
activities apply. As usual,
whether or not the ICT-based alternative is chosen depends on the
characteristics of each
alternative, the decision-maker, and the choice context.
The amount of time or money that is saved by a given ICT activity
can depend on individual specific characteristics (e.g. ones
commute time, in the case of telecommuting) as well as on
technology (e.g. how effective an online shopbot is at
identifying cost savings for a desired
item). Savings may not always be realized at all (or may be negligible),
even in situations where they might be expected. For example, some
studies show little or no cost savings achieved by Internet shopping
(Brynjolfsson and Smith, 2000; Lal and Sarvary, 1999).
The time or money saved by ICT applications can be applied either
to more ICT-based activities, or to non-ICT based activities, and
to activities in any of the three basic categories. Thus, time saved
by telecommuting might be used to work longer (mandatory), to cook
more elaborate meals (maintenance), or to throw a Frisbee with the
kids (leisure). The new mix of activities will again depend on individual-,
activity- and alternative-specific variables. The effect on travel
is ambiguous, depending on whether the new activities involve new
travel or not. The evidence for telecommuting in particular is that
the net impact is substitution, i.e. that the non-commute travel generation
effect appears to be negligible and in any case far outweighed by
the commute travel substitution effect (e.g., Mokhtarian, 1998).
3.1.4 ICT as Enabler/Facilitator/Modifier of Leisure Activities
Finally, the availability of ICT can facilitate activity generation
and scheduling. For example,
mobile phones permit an impulsivity of activity engagement (spontaneous
meetings; last-minute reservations) that was not previously possible
(or at least not easy). By
providing readily-available information about an enormous variety
of activity and travel
opportunities, the Internet facilitates making the arrangements for
holiday and business trips, and may offer price bargains that allow
more travel 17 to be consumed within a given budget.
The result is at least a more flexible activity engagement, and potentially
engagement in more out-of-
13 Although this is true in a narrow sense,
the ability of ICT to facilitate information-seeking and transactions
(discussed further in Section 3.1.4) can broaden the choice set to
include a larger class of similar locations. For example,
instead of limiting ones choice set of great mountain
climbing locations to the Alps and the Rockies, browsing the
Internet may expand it to include the Himalayas, the Andes, the Pamirs,
the Karakoram, the Kunlun, and so on. The result is, in a broad sense,
greater location independence.
14 Perhaps this figure was 95% a few years ago, and will be 70% in
a few years. ICTs clearly are releasing some spatio-temporal constraints.
Thus, we should not underplay this effect, but we should keep it in
15 Both the new ICT-based activities and the ones they displace could
be non-leisure as well as leisure; for example, the ability to conduct
business anytime, anyplace may crowd out leisure time.
16 Although it can be argued that they do, in fact, reduce time devoted
to previously overlaid activities such as interaction with ones
surroundings and undirected contemplation. Different people will value
this lost time differently.
17 Technically, to fall into this category the cost savings should
result in choosing a more distant destination for a trip that was
planned in any case. If the cost savings for one trip (or other purchase)
is applied toward purchasing other trips or goods, it is an example
of the third type of impact of ICT, discussed in the immediately preceding