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.

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 creations (and those people that still hold power over them). In between, we realists seek to navigate a...

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 another international gathering of significance was held last week at UNESCO. The Council of its Inte...

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...

Inside the Information Society: Naming the Information Society
Inside the Information Society: Naming the Information Society 25 September 2018 David Souter

The names that we give things make us think about them in a certain way. Sometimes that's valid; sometimes deceptive. Sometimes we end up using terms that are no longer relevant. Some thoughts this week on some of the names we've given phenomena in the world of ICTs - and whether what we mean by the biggest term of all (the 'Information Society') is changing or should change. Many wor...

Inside the Information Society: Back to the blog. Four starting points to think about the future
Inside the Information Society: Back to the blog. Four starting points to think about the future 17 September 2018 David Souter

It's been a while since Inside the Information Society's last outing - but now its Northern summer / Southern winter break is over. I'll be back and blogging here for APC each week until just before the turn of year. I'm at a crossroads, too. After 25 years of researching, report-writing and project management within the Information Society, and reaching that advanced age 63, I'm changing ...

Inside the Information Society: Does Europe’s GDPR change privacy and data protection?
Inside the Information Society: Does Europe’s GDPR change privacy and data protection? 18 June 2018 David Souter

In May, Internet users in Europe were flooded by emails from organisations telling them of changes in their data protection arrangements or asking them to renew consent to hold and use their data. Was this spam? No. It was the result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – new European Union (EU) rules to govern how governments, businesses, charities and others can use the data ind...

Inside the Information Society: ICTs, the Internet and structural inequality
Inside the Information Society: ICTs, the Internet and structural inequality 11 June 2018 David Souter

What’s the impact of ICTs on equality and inequality? What’s the relationship between digital divides and other inequalities between women and men, old and young, poor and rich? Are new technologies reducing or increasing inequalities? Changing views of ICTs and (in)equality Back in the early days of ICT4D, many thought that ICTs would naturally help here. They give access to knowledge, sai...

Inside the Information Society: Jobs? What jobs?
Inside the Information Society: Jobs? What jobs? 04 June 2018 David Souter

What will the digital society do to jobs? Will it usher in an age of unemployment or an age of leisure? Will we be served by robots or displaced by them? Will there be greater income inequality or less? This week: some comments on that theme, with a closing (counter-intuitive) conclusion.   Five scenarios are put forward where AI, robotics and employment are concerned. Where are we heading...

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