The Mobile Phone is the Computer of Africa

“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.”

This is part of an interesting interview with our Lead Program Manager, Stephane Boyera, that was conducted in association with his keynote at the first UNESCO Learning Week.  Steph did a very good job, in responses to just 5 questions, of articulating the challenges to effective use of mobile phones for creating and consuming useful content, and what the Web Foundation is doing to address these challenges.

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U.S. Internet Freedom Threatened – Read-Up. Take Action.

The World Wide Web Foundation was created to promote the Web as a medium that connects humanity and empowers all people.  Two billion people across the globe are currently using the Web to communicate, collaborate, provide services and address challenges. Unfortunately, proposed legislation in the United States threatens to turn the country’s Internet infrastructure into a mechanism of censorship; not unlike what has happened in other countries of which the US has been critical.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), currently before the United States House Judiciary Committee, would threaten hyperlinked communication without substantially addressing copyright infringement. I, many of my colleagues and most human rights and civil liberties groups believe SOPA is the wrong way to go.  Please review the matter and express your opinion to US legislators.  There is not much time, as Congress is considering this bill now. Useful resources include Rebecca McKinnon’s New York Times OP-Ed “Stop the Great Firewall of America“, PC World’s SOPA Primer,, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Let’s work to ensure that the United States retains its leadership on matters of free expression and global communication.

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Rosemary Leith Leads Discussions on Internet Security at the World Economic Forum Global Summit

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.

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee Named to the Ford Foundation Board

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.”

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Measuring the Web: Announcing the Web Index

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.

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Mobile 2.0 Conference – HTML5 vs Native Apps

Congratulations to Dan Appelquist from Vodafone, and his co-conspirators, for leading a very engaging forum on the future of mobile applications — Mobile 2.0 — in San Francisco on 1 September.  I keynoted at the very first Mobile 2.0 in 2006, so it was good to be back.

Given the plethora of entrepreneurial apps developers in the audience, I spoke on our Mobile Entrepreneurship Initiative as the lunch-time presentation.  I showed our video animation, too, and people seemed really locked-in as it played.  All of this was a significant diversion from the other topics of the day, which focused on technologies, monetization and the next big things.

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What Have We Been Talking About?

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.

Wordle: Web Foundation Blogs: Jan - July 2011

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Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf and Al Gore in Mexico

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.

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Trailer for Video on Web-alliance for Regreening in Africa

Full video coming soon to a Web browser near you!

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Animation on Web Foundation’s Mission: What Do You Think?

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!).

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