Inside the information 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: 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 creative medium is knocking at the door, and we should embrace it, even as we mourn for the passing of an ...

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 words are value-laden Many of the words we use are value-laden, positive or negative. Sometimes we...

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...

Inside the Information Society: Innovation and development
Inside the Information Society: Innovation and development 28 May 2018 David Souter

Inside the Information Society returns after a break.  This week’s post (based on a speech written for a recent conference) looks at the relationship between innovation and development. Complexity lies at the heart of the challenges that face those of us who are concerned with innovation and development.  We need to pay more attention to that complexity rather than embedding it with...

Inside the Information Society: The impact of the Internet on democratic politics
Inside the Information Society: The impact of the Internet on democratic politics 23 April 2018 David Souter

One of the biggest news stories about the Internet in Britain and America right now concerns Facebook, a company called Cambridge Analytica, and the impact that they might have had on democratic decisions. Two decisions in particular: the narrow vote in Britain to leave the European Union, and the election of Donald Trump. This story’s about many things: the power that data gives to data comp...

Inside the Information Society: Whatever happened to competition online?
Inside the Information Society: Whatever happened to competition online? 15 April 2018 David Souter

The Internet, it used to be said, would let a thousand flowers bloom. The low cost of market entry would enable thousands of application and content developers to reach out to users. There’d be more diversity, more choice, more freedom for users to exercise that choice. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Sure, it’s easier for individuals and small companies to bring something ...

Inside the Information Society: Competition – what happened to telecommunications?
Inside the Information Society: Competition – what happened to telecommunications? 09 April 2018 David Souter

Last week I wrote about the relationship between innovation and regulation in communications. I identified six areas of that relationship which I said I’d write about over the next few months (along with other issues). First up, this week and next, is competition. This week some history and ‘points of principle’; next week, some implications for today/tomorrow. (The history, of course, mu...

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