In this conceptual discussion of the potential impacts of ICT on leisure
activities and travel,
several recurring themes emerge. One theme is that a key role of ICT
is to expand the individuals choice set, both of activities
and of ways to conduct a given activity. Among new ICTs, clearly the
mobile phone and the Internet are having the largest impact on activity
patterns. At present, the Internet is perhaps more important in the
United States and the mobile phone more important elsewhere in the
world, but both technologies are still spreading, as well as merging
in forms such as the Web-enabled mobile phone and laptops or personal
digital assistants (PDAs) with wireless Internet connections.
Another recurring theme, however, is that just because new choices
are available, there is no
guarantee that people will choose them. The appeal of ICT-based activities
will depend on
characteristics of the choice context, the alternatives, and the individual.
We are reminded that
in many cases, ICT does not offer a satisfactory alternative to traditional
ways of conducting
activities. And in fact, although we have generally assumed the availability
of ICTs in the foregoing discussion, that assumption is not universally
true. In some cases a desired ICT is not available to anyone
being technologically or economically out of reach at this point
and in other cases it is available to some people but not to everyone.
Obviously availability is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition
for an ICT alternative to be chosen. Following the interesting results
of Doherty (2003) with respect to the spatial and temporal flexibility
of activities (discussed in Section 3.1.1), it would be valuable to
monitor the extent to which that perceived flexibility is changing
over time, as well as simply the extent to which ICT alternatives
are perceived to be available. Further, the differential availability
of ICTs to different geographical locations and socio-economic segments
of society is a matter of policy concern as well as research interest.
A further overarching observation is that the potential leisure-related
impacts of ICT on travel
are mixed. For some types of effects (categories 1 and 2 of Table
2 and Figure 2) the adoption of ICT is likely to reduce travel; for
others (categories 3 and 4) the primary effect is likely to be generation
of new travel, although secondary modification and substitution effects
are also likely. We do not know the net outcome of these complex and
counteracting relationships, nor even a rank ordering among the various
types of ICT impacts with respect to their implications for travel.
In addition to those already expressed or implied, a number of directions
for further research have been suggested by this discussion. One fundamental
question worth exploring is, how do people perceive leisure? That
is, what qualifies an activity as leisure or not-leisure to a given
individual, and with what factors does that classification vary across
people? Besides being of theoretical interest in their own right,
from a practical standpoint the answers are important to our ability
to craft empirical studies in a way that will be meaningful to the
participants, even or perhaps especially if our desired
definition differs from theirs (see Passmore and French, 2001 for
one example of such a study).
With respect to each of the four types of ICT impacts identified
in this report, two generic
questions can be raised: (1) What is the extent of the adoption of
the relevant ICTs (whether
they are the ends of interest as in categories 1 and 2, or the means
to another end as in categories 3 and 4); and (2) for a given level
of adoption of ICTs, what is the nature and extent of their impacts
on the targets of study? For a study of category 1 adoption (the choice
of an ICT-based versus traditional way of conducting a given activity),
discrete choice models probably constitute the logical analysis methodology.
For adoption within the other three categories, the natural paradigm
is not so much that of an either-or choice among discrete alternatives,
but rather a shift in the way ones time is allocated. Accordingly,
appropriate analysis methodologies could include utility maximization
based models of time allocation (see, e.g., Kraan, 1997), structural
equations models (e.g. Lu and Pas, 1999), and/or duration models (Bhat,
In sum, the study of the impacts of ICTs on leisure activities and
travel presents a number of
interesting and important challenges to the profession. We look forward
to the further
development of this rich and rewarding topic.
The development of Figure 2 was inspired by a discussion with Gil
Tal, and David Ory is the
source of footnote 12. Hani Mahmassani and Genevieve Giuliano also
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