I am currently sitting in the conference center, finishing up a 13-hour work day at the Internet Governance Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
One of the most interesting sessions that I attended today had to do with the mobile Web. I was able to briefly speak with keynote speaker Tim Berners-Lee following the session.
Some of the main points from panelists included the need for Web content to be tailored to smaller devices, as well as the pressing issue of expanding content on the Web to come from non-Western countries. In order for under-developed and developing countries to be able to access the Web, it is essential for content on the Web to appeal to them. With billions of documents available online, very little content is appropriate or understandable to individuals in Africa, Southeast Asia or Latin America.
The following are some memorable quotes from the session:
“In Ghana, the government was less worried about connectivity and more concerned with their being enough content. There is no realization that they could actually create it online, or tat they could go to a street map and enter information. There is a culture shock that this is not America’s Internet.”
“We have always found in the past that the open world beats the closed world. When America Online tried to put themselves online without acknowledging the Web, it didn’t work. Everybody else is always going to be bigger. The open platform is very important and we should push for it.”
“Networks in Africa are fragile, and coverage is not total in several African countries. The user-interface may become a principal access instrument for people in Africa. There has been a focus on developing applications for UI’s.”
“Technology alone does not change a society. But if it is used appropriately by the people, it has the potential to change the society for the better. The focus should be on the people who are at the far end of the digital divide.”
“Broadband infrastructure is an absolutely vital component. Broadband investments create jobs, stimulates demand for richer content and fuels the growth of a dynamic global Internet.”
Read more information about the Internet Governance Forum here.