Digital exclusion in Scotland: tweets by @operanomad and @OliverEscobar

NB @operanomad and @OliverEscobar gave retrospective permission to copy their tweets. 

Cat Macaulay (Chief design officer at the Scottish Government, @operanomad) talks about the ~800,000 digitally excluded people in Scotland. She states in another thread: [it] benefits no one to have so many digitally excluded/inactive and no or low basic digitally skilled in Scotland. (I’d add that this argument applies worldwide. This is not a criticism of the focus on Scotland in the following.)

Cat Macaulay’s recent thread on the numbers of digitally excluded people in Scotland starts here. She says

Digital exclusion is a combination of access to a device, to connectivity and means to pay for it, and basic digital skills. It’s not just about having access to a device. Factors such as poverty, motivation, confidence and accessibility issues for disabled people, also issues.

2 in 10 adults in Scotland (880,000) lack basic digital skills. 1 in 10 have no basic digital skills. Particularly important in lockdown are those basic skills – find info, order shopping online, fill in a form online etc. Source:

On basic access – latest Scottish Household Survey findings – a) 13% of households have no internet access at home (rises to 17% in lowest income households) – ie c 680000 people do not have internet access at home and b) 1 in 8 adults do not use the internet at all. Source:

And then we have to factor in people who have internet access at home and basic digital skills but can afford little or no access. Multi person and multi child household where the numbers of devices and data allowance size are issues etc

Data is harder to access there unfortunately. And data on children not clear other as while many children are digitally active it’s often at school and schools and colleges struggle to ensure all young people have access to internet at home.

So overall assumption is that c 800000 are digitally excluded, 680000 because they do not have access to the internet at home and the rest a combo of no and low digital skills and/or poverty and/or extremely limited data.

There’s a wee exchange between Cat Macaulay and ‘CitizenParticipation’ (@OliverEscobar) here:

CM: Lockdown. No Netflix. No news sites. No health info. No zoom with friends. No social media. No gaming. No YouTube. No podcasts. No ebooks. No Spotify. No online learning. For the 800000 digitally excluded Scots that’s life right now. Doesn’t bear thinking about does it…

OE: The digital divide has been an inequalities booster for some time. This #coronavirus crisis throws into relief the importance of universal digital infrastructure as a foundation for the digital public sphere of the next decades.

CM: Absolutely – critical national infrastructure for a post-covid world for sure. Benefits no one to have so many digitally excluded/inactive and no or low basic digitally skilled in Scotland.


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