Inside the digital society
David Souter writes a weekly column for APC, 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.
I don’t have a Facebook profile. People ask me why I don’t. After all, it seems, this puts me in the minority among users of the Internet worldwide. Answering this question’s made me consider my relationship with social media, and social media’s relationship with our society.
Twenty years ago, in 1998, the UK Department for International Development asked me to help it ‘determine the value of involvement in information and communication technology in support of its objective of eliminating poverty in poorer countries.’ I’ve just re-read the paper and the presentation that I gave in response to that invitation. They’re a telling reminder of what’s changed and what has not.
A third of the world’s Internet users, says UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report, on Children in a Digital World, are younger than 18. How they use it shapes their attitudes, behaviour, opportunities, and therefore shapes their futures. That deserves more – and more sophisticated – attention from the Internet’s stakeholders than it gets.
This week's instalment looks at an important new source of evidence on access and use in developing countries.
Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that ‘Inside the Information Society’ took a break towards the end of last year. It’s back today, with a long list of themes up and ready for 2018.
Too much debate about the Information Society is binary. To advocates, anything digital looks good. Others are spooked by impacts that are uncontrolled and unbenign. If we’re serious, we need to be more nuanced. Some reflection on this where social media’s concerned this week; next week, the Internet’s impact on politics.
In a previous post, I looked at different ways to measure the internet. This week, we'll look into measuring the Information Society.