Inside the digital society

David Souter writes a column for APC twice a month, looking at different aspects of the information society, development and rights. David’s pieces take a fresh look at many of the issues that concern APC and its members, with the aim of provoking discussion and debate. Issues covered include internet governance and sustainable development, human rights and the environment, policy, practice and the use of ICTs by individuals and communities.

Inside the Digital Society: The long and winding road to digital cooperation
Inside the Digital Society: The long and winding road to digital cooperation 14 October 2019 David Souter

Last year, the UN Secretary-General appointed a ‘High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation’ to think about ‘the ways we work together to address the social, ethical, legal and economic impact of digital technologies in order to maximise their benefits and minimise their harm.’ The future of ‘digital governance’ and its relation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were also put on its agenda. The Panel had twenty members, drawn from a variety of (mostly IT-related) backg...

Inside the Digital Society
Inside the Digital Society 02 October 2019 David Souter

It's a while since APC published my last blog from 'Inside the Information Society': nine months or so. Now feels like the right time to begin the blog again, but with some changes. Quite a few people have told me that they've missed this blog, which is gratifying. I reply that I've been taking time out to reflect on how the 'Information Society' is changing, the changing ways in which it's impacting on the wider world, the ways in which it interacts with other global challenges. I'll st...

Inside the Information Society: Measuring the impact of ICTs on sustainable development
Inside the Information Society: Measuring the impact of ICTs on sustainable development 11 March 2019 David Souter

Measuring the Information (or Digital) Society sounds as if it should be simple. After all, it’s digital! If we’re worried about the volume of data that’s gathered about us every time we click a mouse or tap a smartscreen, surely there must be more than enough to tell us all we need to know about how the Information Society’s evolving. Not so, and especially not so when it com...

Inside the Information Society: Fifteen years in fifteen minutes
Inside the Information Society: Fifteen years in fifteen minutes 14 February 2019 David Souter

David Souter's blog returns from its winter break with a review of the fifteen years since the World Summit on the Information Society – and how it should be viewed in future. Starting with this instalment, the Information Society will be published twice a month.   This post is a revised version of a presentation ...

Inside the Information Society: Jobs and employment policies in the digital age
Inside the Information Society: Jobs and employment policies in the digital age 11 December 2018 David Souter

Last week I wrote about some of the policy and regulatory issues that arise from the accelerating trend towards a digital society and new technologies such as artificial intelligence. This week some thoughts about employment issues that arise from that same trend: issues that are increasingly being discussed but on which we have very little evidence to base conclusions. Visions of the future As...

Inside the Information Society: Making policy for the digital age
Inside the Information Society: Making policy for the digital age 03 December 2018 David Souter

Some people view the future with excitement. Others look on it in trepidation. That’s especially so as we accelerate towards a digital society.   To one side, cyber-optimists imagine a world in which technology cures all our ills and illnesses (some even think that it might conquer death). To the other, cyber-pessimists fear one in which we lose control to our digital crea...

Inside the Information Society: A new tool for measuring the internet
Inside the Information Society: A new tool for measuring the internet 26 November 2018 David Souter

It’s been a busy month of international meetings around ICTs and internet.   The ITU - the International Telecommunication Union – held a Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai, agreeing its agenda for the next four years. The thirteenth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held at UNESCO’s conference in Paris. More on the latter, at least, in a later post.   But anothe...

Inside the Information Society: What happened to those liberal hopes?
Inside the Information Society: What happened to those liberal hopes? 30 October 2018 David Souter

Twenty years ago, the internet was expected to advance the causes of democracy and human rights. But is it turning out that way? The world today is less liberal than it was back then. What’s happening? Old expectations Let’s go back twenty years or so, when the internet was becoming widespread in the North, more available in the South, and widely seen as a source of new hope ...

Inside the Information Society: Breaking the news
Inside the Information Society: Breaking the news 16 October 2018 David Souter

Last time I wrote about the (unexpected) resilience of the book in digital times. Far from dying out, book sales are currently reviving. But what about those other icons of the print age, newspapers? What’s happening to them, and does it matter? Newspapers, many people say, face a ‘perfect storm’, a crisis whose multiple aspects combine and reinforce one another to create a...

Inside the Information Society: What about books?
Inside the Information Society: What about books? 03 October 2018 David Souter

Twenty years ago, as the internet took off, a lot of people thought the days of books were numbered. The very first issue of the journal info, for example, back in 1999, carried an article on ‘The Dim Future of the Book’ by American academic Eli Noam, which argued that:  Books were merely the receptacle [of content], the transmission vehicle, the storage bin. A new and creati...

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