Global Digital Participation - how do we get the world to 'get it'?
A 2011 Call For Action shout among SMC Globalists
The Web is /.../ vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. /.../ Yet people seem to think the Web is some sort of piece of nature, and if it starts to wither, well, that’s just one of those unfortunate things we can’t help. Not so. We create the Web, by designing computer protocols and software; this process is completely under our control. /.../ The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine.
Tim Berners-Lee, the innovator of the WWW, in his latest Scientific American feature - “Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality.”
The other week a Facebook intern made a snapshot of “the world”, connected, mining its own servers for data - “Visualizing Friendships” among 10 million of its users.
The Beauty of the Image very quickly found traction around the world - and the story behind it. First, of course, in the New Media - the instant statusphere, then the blogosphere flowing and making further waves, and finally the Old Media with multicasters like CNN, BBC and The Guardian.
The day after the Facebook “Visualizing Friendships”, I found an article - “Africa’s Social Media Revolution”. It simply states that the world of social media has deeply reached Africa, and what carries it is mobile technology. And that development is explosive, even if the penetration of net use in the continent is the lowest in a global comparison, with 100 million of the global 2 billion net users there. And Facebook is the most popular site in many of the African countries.
At the same time one of the most prominent conferences in the area of ICT4D - Information and Communication Technologies for Development - was taking place in London; ICT2010. With attendance and keynote from the intro-quoted TBL himself. The sources above both went to the Twitter backchannel of that event (the latter thanks to yours sincerely ;). You can read resumés from that conference e. g. here, here, here and here).
What comes to my reflection is the surprisingly few commentators who made remarks on the Facebook vs Developing Economies linkage and illumination in the visual - where e. g. the African continent only have those highly bright spots over at the “three corners” of hubs driving the development - Nigeria, East Africa and South Africa. But along the way low budget mobile web point-to-the-screen devices will also more increasingly connect Africa. Connect the Red Squared line with the Green Triangled below, and you see the future.
Digital Participation in between and within countries
But the illustrations above only highlights one dimension of those “within” and “without” the web, on that global scale - in between countries and regions. There is also a need for inclusion inside the borders and across demographies within countries and states. Here in Sweden, e. g., there are equally the proportions who make status updates on the social web as there are people not using the net at all - 1.5 million (The Swedes and Internet / Svenskarna och Internet, 2010), out of 9 million people. Even if you theoretically have access to the net all over Sweden, where not having you own computer or mobile net-connected device can be compensated by connectivity through e. g. public libraries, people still experience to feel excluded, and thus not use the net.
Here, a Call for Digital Participation (Upprop för Digital Delaktighet [in English] - #digidel) has just recently been undersigned by major societal stakeholders, especially educational, where .SE is the main process owner (http://iis.se - the foundation running our national Top Level Domain). The target, inspired by the UK initiative Race Online 2012, is to have half a million more people in Sweden on the net by 2013. (I attended the kick-off conference in October, and I’ve blogged about it here on a site run by .SE.)
How could such an initiative form its global counterpart? And how could SMC Globally act to get more people online? And, beyond the technical/physical access that still is alarmingly lacking, there is obviously a need to make people “get it” even if you have got it at the basic level - the access. Yes, if you get it, share it. How will you “share it”?
Follow #digipart (Digital Participation) for that conversation, which I will continue next month here!
[Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=469716398919]
[Image Credit: http://www.itu.int/publ/D-IND-RPM.AF-2009/en]