The Global Internet

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The Global Internet: Emerging Tech in Emerging Markets Session Organizers: Beth Kolko, Mike Best

The Internet as a technology with specific capabilities is remarkably context-dependent depending on where users are located and what infrastructure they can access. Weather-dependent in Cambodia, subject to invisible and constantly shifting censorship in Uzbekistan or China, or still delivered primarily over dial-up speeds in rural areas around the globe, the objective measure of "Internet access" doesn't tell us that much about what kinds of content people can access, the interaction and communication modes they adopt, and how the technology gets integrated into everyday life and professional practice. In these areas of greater constraint, people are innovative and unpredictable in how they adapt certain technologies to local needs. When we look at specific countries and people's patterns of adoption and usage, how does our understanding of the global Internet change? How does the innovative use of Internet and mobiles in emerging markets point to the future of other emerging technologies?

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Session format: short framing (5 min) presentations, followed by open discussion.

Session goal 1: country profiles from researchers who work in different areas of the world. Presentations will be quick overviews of the internet, technology infrastructure, usage patterns, etc. in disparate regions

Session goal 2: futurism scenarios of how technology is likely to evolve in these contexts based on current trajectories

Description: The Global Internet: Emerging Tech in Emerging Markets

The Internet as a technology with specific capabilities is remarkably context-dependent depending on where users are located and what infrastructure they can access. Weather-dependent in Cambodia, subject to invisible and constantly shifting censorship in Uzbekistan or China, or still delivered primarily over dial-up speeds in rural areas around the globe, the objective measure of "Internet access" doesn't tell us that much about what kinds of content people can access, the interaction and communication modes they adopt, and how the technology gets integrated into everyday life and professional practice. In these areas of greater constraint, people are innovative and unpredictable in how they adapt certain technologies to local needs. When we look at specific countries and people's patterns of adoption and usage, how does our understanding of the global Internet change? The innovative use of Internet and mobiles in emerging markets points to what kind of future for other emerging technologies?

Discussion questions:

1. Innovation. What innovative uses or adaptations of technology at the grassroots levels can we see and learn from? Can these grassroots innovations be leveraged by entrepreneurs?

2. Infrastructure. What does infrastructure look like at a detailed level and how does that affect how Internet-related technologies are spreading, how they are being used, and what future growth patterns are likely to be.

3. Policy. What are the characteristics of local regulatory schemes that encourage or discourage the growth of Internet-related industries. Based on the current directions of policy, where might Internet industries/usage/adoption experience the most growth?