The project will produce a study of the barriers to increased exploitation of the Internet and the Web for economic and social development. It will survey the existing state of affairs, assess promising avenues for ameliorating the situation, and will examine the roles and responsibiities of the various actors involved. It is expected that the study will be published in hard copy and online.
Various experts will be commissioned to contribute to the contents of the document.
The project was funded in late 2010. A meeting of experts to finalize the structure and content of the document is being planned for late February. It is hoped that a first draft will be produced by the end of June, and with editing and revisions, the final product will be available by the end of the year.
The Rockefeller Foundation is providing the majority of the funding for this project, with some supplementary support from the Web Foundation.
PROJECT CONTENT AND GOALS
The study will include users’ experiences accessing the Internet in the developing world, and will focus upon disadvantaged populations in areas of the world where there is a critical mass of such individuals and where there is potential significant return on investment in improving their ability to exploit the resources made available through the Internet and in particular, through the World Wide Web.
The audience for the study consists readers with a range of interests, from those wishing to have a general understanding of the state of technology in development to those in the broader policy community in the developing world and those who have a responsibility to suggest or implement investments to ameliorate such information poverty. End notes and bibliographic references will be used to provide links to information beyond what is included in the document.
The document will be a compendium of a number of chapters, each written by one or more authors. Authors will be chosen so as to capture both the knowledge of development practitioners and of people who live in and have worked in developing environments. An analytical approach will be augmented by vignettes and stories of actual experience. The document is expected to be about 100-120 pages long, although that may vary and will be ultimately based upon the output of the various authors who are to be chosen.
The study will look at the following areas in assessing how to ameliorate use of the information on the Internet and on the Web for economic and social goals:
- affordable and available access to the Internet
- ease of use, including interface design, accommodation for illiteracy of various kinds, availability of languages and character sets, and attention to challenged groups such as the blind and the deaf
- application and content, including relevant and cost-effective applications , the role of local content and substance, the supply and demand for both local and international content, and the role of “content push
- an understanding of the cultural determinants of Internet and Web use and expansion and how they effect take-up rates and effective use.
The roles and responsibilities of of specific actors involved will be highlighted in each section in order to highlight where leverage for change exists. The document will conclude with a synthesis of the material presented and recommendations for progress.