The Digital Engagement Model

This section is meant to explain the model related to the presented concepts.

Note: The page will be re-written and updated as new material emerge, so it shouldn’t be thought of as a static page until this disclaimer is gone.

There is a wide range of theories associated with users engagement with technology and communication aided by technologies. The presented model (digital engagement model) can be used as is, but it may prove even more powerful when used in conjunction with related theories. The model consist of three axes that each relates to different aspects of human engagement to the digital world: human orientation, human approach and type of engagement. each axis has several sub-topics that will be covered in separate sections, but the following can serve as a general overview of the axes:

Human orientation

This axis relates to a person’s fundamental relation to the digital world. Orientation is divided into the following types of orientation:

  • Physically anchored. This person finds no value in the digital world. He only uses digital tools when forced to (like corporate mail, digital identification etc.) or when there are strong means to, like contact with distant family members.
  • Physically oriented. This person uses digital tools and services but sees them in relation to the physical world. Uses digital tools to work with images from a camera, but would love to print a calendar or have them in an album (if he had the time). He visits social media sites, but the site resembles his physical life with current and old friends or relations.
  • Digitally anchored. This person embraces technologies and the possibilities it brings. His social site is made up of friends from the physical world as well as digital acquaintances. He connect and collect information through a social network and online services, and utilize the digital relation back into the physical world.

A person can generally see themselves in one of the segments, or in the intersection between them. However, all aspect of human self-understanding is now fully encompassed in one segment, and the model takes into account that a person can see himself as digitally anchored in one aspect, but physically oriented in another. Other parts of the model (like ethics or cultural understanding) inflict on this.

Type of engagement

This axis is relatively simple, as it works with the overall approach to the digital world. It consists of three types of engagement and two underlying layers that inflicts on the means of engagement.

  • Producer. The reason for engaging the digital world is to add value to it. The person creates content or a digital artifact of some sort that gets pooled and added to the total of digital information available.
  • Consumer. This person engages in order to receive or utilize digital information. The consumer don’t necessarily has to give anything prior to consuming, but different types of online engagement may require information about the user or attach as a relation to the persons digitally decoupled self.
  • Social. This type of engagement leverage the value of exchange. Here the value is not defined by the qualities of artifacts or information produced or consumed, but by the digital interactions, and sense of co-presence found in dialogue and digital collaborative environments.

While the above is three fundamental approaches to the digital world, there is also two underlying factors, that directly influences the engagement:

  • The Cultural Motivation. This is based on cultural factors on personal as well as factors in the surrounding society or other socio-economic factors. If the user is a gamer or a sports freak. If he is young or old. All these factors inflict on the means of engagement. Cultural, in this case, is seen as all that is created by us, and by that describes us.
  • The Political Motivation. While the cultural inflicts on a sort of sentient level, the political factor is inflicting on an intentional level. Here lie the means of engaging with a purpose for other than oneself.

These two motivators interacts with the types of engagement. Your relation to a specific culture or political view can inflict on what you produce or consume, or how you interact. On the other side will the actual engagement with the digital layer reinforce or modify you cultural or political standpoint.

Human approach

This axis is dealing with a person’s state of mind when engaging the digital world. It consists of two states and an underlying motivation that works for or against the different states.

  • Efferent state. In this state, the user engages with the digital world in order to get a result somewhere else. He will take the information and use it in a different context (digital or physical). Typical efferent areas are forms, weather reports, stock quotes etc.
  • Aesthetic state. In this state, the user will engage the digital world and bring itself into the experience. The user sees the value in the interaction more than in the result of the interaction. Games, movies, conversations are obvious examples of aesthetically motivated areas.

The states are related to Louise Rosenblatt’s definition but in the Digital Engagement Model they are governed by an underlying force, the ethics.

  • Ethical consideration. This dictates your sense of right and wrong in relation to digital engagement. It can work as a driving force towards either a more aesthetic driven engagement or an efferent approach. Eventually, it could also work as a parameter towards or away from a digital engagement.


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