The Multi-Disciplinary Forum for Promoting Human Well-Being through Digital Media
Goals and Rationale
Our Goal is the enhancement and improvement of human well-being, in the intermediate and long term, through the use of digital media.
The efforts of the international community for human development through digital media have been focused on universal accessibility to media ("overcoming the digital divide") and effective usage modes ("digital skills" or "literacies"). These are obviously the basic necessary conditions for working, learning and living in the world today.
We believe time has come to look for a more ambitious goal, which encompasses the two previous foci. It is the enhancement of the well being of users through their usage of digital media.
"Well-being" in this context refers to a sustainable positive way to experience oneself and one's life which does not depend exclusively on the existence of pleasure or lack of pain. It has been recognized in various research fields in the last few decades as an essential condition for survival and coping with life’s hardship in effective ways. As such, it is the most valuable psychological resource for individuals and societies (both the developing and developed countries), as it enables people to deal with their economic, social and psychological challenges and enjoy as much as possible satisfying and happy life.
Digital media provide humanity with unprecedented powerful leverages to promote well being in the short, medium and long term for a relatively modest investment. They are flexible, and hence easy, rapid and inexpensive to change in light of well being oriented considerations. They are also relatively easy to adapt to different cultural contexts. Thus, they allow us to quickly develop environments supporting human well being that can be available everywhere within the next few years.
The Conditions for Well-Being:
(a tentative list)
A digital environment (as any other) can assist the development of long term well being in users if it encourages the development of:
acceptance and empathy among users
sense of competence in users
ability and motivation for self direction in users so they can act in light of their “inner compass”
ability and motivation of users for mindful exploration in areas they have interest in, resulting in self knowledge of one’s interests, capacities, worldview.
The meeting of this challenge does not require significant additional resources in R&D efforts. All it requires is (1) raising the awareness of designers and developers to the possibility of developing digital media that will (also) create and support the conditions for well being (see the bar on the right); (2) developing methodology for operationalizing these conditions for the design and development of digital media. Similar efforts are required vis-a-vis developers of programmes for digital skills, educators and leaders of programs aimed at closing the digital divide.
We already care about the well being of the Earth by integrating considerations of sustainable development into industrial and consumerist processes. We believe it is time to expand the care for well being to humans through the design and use of well-being-oriented digital media.
For this purpose, the Forum will aim at promoting the integration of scientifically-based humanist considerations of well-being into information technologies' R&D processes as well as in usage patterns and in the educational context