I’m extremely please to share the news that the Web Foundation’s Web Index is now public. It premiered today at a symposium in London, headlined by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. The Web Index is the world’s first measure of the impact of the Web on people and nations around the world. This inaugural publication ranks the state of the Web, as well as its political, economic and social impact, across 61 countries on all continents. The plan is to publish the Index annually, and to continue to expand its geographic and analytic scope.
As we conceived the Web Foundation in 2008, I started to formulate the concept for the Web Index. Why? We needed an objective and powerful tool to help governments, companies and citizens develop better informed and targeted strategies for investing in technology and policy in order to make the Web a better value. The Web Foundation also needed an anchor, metric and compass for the work of the Foundation itself. The Board and many others have contributed to getting us to where we are now (see below). Methodology and results …
The theme of this year’s TED conference was “Full Spectrum” — “the rich use of multiple technologies, formats and approaches for the most powerful possible impact on an audience”. Certainly the World Wide Web has greatly expanded the spectrum of people with access to a broad spectrum of information in a broad spectrum of ways. I proposed a talk entitled, “Measuring the Web’s World Wide Impact”, and was fortunate to one of a couple dozen of talks selected from 250 or so candidates for a talk during the TED-U sessions at TED2012. Speaking on 28 February, I had 7 mins to explain the Web Foundation’s scheme for the Web Index. Here are some pics of my talk from the TED Flickr site (pic 1, pic 2, pic 3)
“These are exciting times as over 5 billion people have a device that allows them to access the Web. [though only 2 billion are using the Web] The challenge is to go beyond the use of mobiles as person-to-person devices, so they become Web-access platforms. Two major conditions have to be met, though. The first is access – people need interface they can use and understand whether they speak Urdu, Mandarin or any other language, or indeed whether they are literate or not. The second is the suitability of content – people require content and services that are relevant and useful in their day-to-day life.”
Rosemary Leith, founding Director of the Web Foundation, led discussions on Internet security and its role in global governance at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, held in Abu Dhabi earlier this week. The Summit brought together more than 800 influential thought leaders to address the most pressing global challenges. Not surprisingly, the economy and governance were at the top of the list.
Ms. Leith chairs the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Internet Security. In Abu Dhabi, the Council focused its attention on security and privacy challenges that pose threats to our world; a world increasingly dependent upon the Internet and Web. Specific topics on the table included how to manage Internet security among global stakeholders, as well as cybercrime and control of personal data.
Web Foundation founder and Director, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was elected today to the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation. Speaking about Tim and the other new Trustee, social entrepreneur Martin Eakes, Ford President Luis Ubiñas said, “Through their work and in their lives, these individuals have shown a deep commitment to the values of individual opportunity and social justice that lie at the heart of the Ford Foundation’s mission. We are honored to have them join our board and know they will contribute greatly to our work across the globe.”
The World Wide Web Foundation is very pleased to announce an exciting new initiative: the World Wide Web Index. We thank Google for a generous grant of US $1 million to the Foundation, which is being leveraged to seed the creation of the Index. I’m thrilled that we are finally able to start on the project, as I have believed in and worked toward this for almost three years. I’m also thrilled that Hania Farhan, with deep experience in the field of developing credible indexes, will be the project manager for this effort.
What is the Web Index? The Web Index will be the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web and its impact on people in a large number of countries. It will be a composite index, incorporating political, economic, social, and developmental indicators, as well as indicators of Web connectivity and infrastructure.
Why compile a Web Index? The Index will allow for comparisons of trends over time and across borders. It will provide indications of technical conditions that are present or not present in a country that are at least coincidental with, if not related to, the political, economic and social impact of the Web. This will make it a powerful tool of analysis for policy makers and investors, allowing them to make more effective and better targeted investment strategies. The Index may well raise more questions than it answers, and motivate additional Web Science research into the Web as not just a technology, but as humanity connected by technology.
Here is a word cloud of the 50 most used words in our blog posts from January through July 2011. Not many surprises. Words like mobile, Web, people, community, services and Africa are near the top, representing not only what we are talking about, but what we are doing in the field.
Web Foundation founder and Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, and former US Vice President and Internet champion Al Gore shared the stage at Campus Party, Mexico City, engaging over over 7,000 Campuseros.
Please give us your impression of this 3 minute animation (text of script, animation on Vimeo, YouTube, .mp4 file), which aims to summarize the vision and efforts of the World Wide Web Foundation. Forward the link to your friends and family, too, so we can get a good range of opinions. To illustrate some of the challenges and solutions in reaching our vision, we refer to the work we are doing and planning to do in Africa to empower farmers through the Web – Web-alliance for Regreening in Africa (W4RA) (many, many thanks to our funder and partner, VU University, Amsterdam, and our other partners in W4RA, for their support in this particular initiative!).