Source: Graz University of Technology
The aim of this investigation is to discuss dangers and opportunities posed by large search engines, particularly Google. This will of course constitute a main part of this write-up. However, in the process of investigations it also became clear that the focus has to be extended, not to just cover Google and search engines in an isolated fashion, but to also cover other Web related phenomena, particularly Wikipedia, Blogs, and other related community efforts. June 2008, pdf format. [see more]
The “information society” originally springs up as a conceptual model that intends to account for the profound alterations experienced by industrial society in recent decades, mainly prompted by the technological revolution. Thus, the new informational model is usually regarded as the desired target being unfailingly approached by countries. However, the pace of transition to the information society depends to a large extent on the level of development and wealth of countries, taking into account the stock of knowledge, capacities and infrastructure needed to successfully complete such transition. Therefore, Southern countries fall once again behind the most developed ones, which have begun this transition from a more favourable starting point.

Within this context, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) comes into existence as a global process that includes the participation of key actors in terms of information and communication issues, such as governments, the private sector and the academy. The Action Plan approved at the first phase of the Geneva Summit has been broadly criticized , mainly by civil society organizations. Among the items criticized there are organization topics (the multistakeholder approach proposed for the Summit’s organization was not taken into account to draw up such Plan) as well as political and ideological aspects. For example, the Geneva Action Plan is criticized for having a way too technical approach, giving priority to issues of access and extension of infrastructure rather than to policies for capacity building; it is also criticized for its lack of applicability when compared to the high diversity of situations registered worldwide. Likewise, it has been analysed that the type of public-private partnerships stipulated in the plan run the risk of minimizing state intervention and the set of public policies needed, thus exclusively promoting free-market based solutions which fail to ensure the achievement of the social development goals desired.

In spite of the above limitations with regards to specific results and notwithstanding the lack of visibility of the Summit if compared to other global instances, it has managed to introduce the issue of information society within national agendas. In this way, national strategies, cyber-strategies or e-strategies become action frameworks that support the construction of the information society in the different regions and countries. At global level, international institutions such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN ICT Task Force have set precedents in terms of designing and promoting this type of strategies.

One of the outstanding factors related to the success of these strategies is the implementation of multistakeholder work frameworks in the design and application phases, so as to achieve wholesome perspectives based on the comparative views of all actors taking part in the process (including civil society and the private sector). The participation of the private sector in these processes is considered useful and necessary, provided it takes place under state supervision. The “let the private sector do it” policy usually and undesirably results in the extension of infrastructure and connection only to those market zones that are profitable. The information society action plans also have to deal with the liberalization of the telecommunication sector, imposed by international financial institutions in a large number of countries and regions, such as Latin America. The direct consequence of such reforms has been a decrease in regulations concerning the private sector’s actions, which results in the loss of connection between ICTs policies and human rights policies and the promotion of citizen practices.

The fact that the governments of less developed countries usually allocate very few resources for investment on this type of plans should be added to this complex situation. In view of reduced budgets, these plans are placed second with regards to priorities such as health and education. Likewise, most of these countries lack government technical teams trained in these issues, which results in fragmentary and short-rage policies and in the lack of participation in global decision-making instances, such as the WSIS. So, in terms of the design of policies, there is urgent need to consult and include those civil society organizations specialized in information and communication issues, which from their experience are capable of making valuable contributions to the process.

Action plans aimed at approaching the information society should be considered as state policies rather than as peripheral or accessory programmes. The current paradigm is aimed at wholesome programmes, coordinated at a multi-sectoral level and actively incorporated into development agendas, as being the most effective in the transition towards the information society. Emphasis should also be placed on joint regional efforts and regional strategies or plans.
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Monday, July 07 2008
Dangers and opportunities posed by large search engines
(Source: Graz University of Technology)
Thursday, August 16 2007
APC latest annual report: 2006 - open access for all
(Source: APC)

Global initiatives

WSIS Geneva Plan of Action (International Telecommunication Union (ITU))

WSIS Stocktaking (International Telecommunication Union (ITU))

E-Strategies - Empowering Development (ITU)

Regional programs

Connectivity Agenda for the Americas (Inter-American Telecommunication Commission)

Observatory for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Africa Information Society Initiative (UN Economic and Social Commission for Africa (UNECA))

Collaboration for international ICT policy / East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)

Asia-Pacific Developement Information Programme (APDIP)

ICT Applications Section / Asia-Pacific (UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP))

Analysis and research

Dangers and opportunities posed by large search engines (Graz University of Technology)

The Internet in developing nations: Grand challenges (First Monday)

Diversifying Participation in Network Development (Regulateonline.org)

New internet tools will help to enhance development (IICD)

ICT Standard setting today: A system under stress (First Monday)

Seeking open infrastructure: Contrasting open standards, open source and open innovation (First Monday)

Implementing openness: An international institutional perspective (First Monday)

Public libraries, public access computing, FOSS and CI: There are alternatives to private philanthropy (First Monday)

Globalization and IT: Setting the record straight

Information Society for the South: Vision or hallucination? (WSIS Papers)

Proposed strategies for the information society in the South (WSIS Papers)

Political economy of the information society: A Southern view (WSIS Papers)

Fostering local resources and technologies in the South: Perspectives for the Arab world (WSIS Papers)

Interconnection costs ( APC)

Developing National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) Policies, Plans and Strategies: The why and how (UNECA)

The centrality of e-strategies in the WSIS Plan of Action ( APC)

National approaches to ICT (Digital Opportunity Initiative (DOI))

Why national strategies are needed for ICT-enabled development (Development Gateway)

A global overview of e-strategies (UNICTTF (United Nations ICT Task Force))

E-Strategies National, Sectoral and Regional ICT Policies, Plans and Strategies (UNECA)

An Overview of ICT Policies and e-Strategies of Select Asian Economies (Asia-Pacific Development Programme)

ICT Policies and e-Strategies in the Asia Pacific: A Critical Assessment of The Way Forward (Asia-Pacific Development Programme)

ICT policy and civil society

Overestimating the Global Digital Divide (University of Manchester)

Digital divide or digital development?: The Internet in Mexico (First Monday)

Effective use: A community informatics strategy beyond the Digital Divide (First Monday)

Zones of silence: A framework beyond the digital divide (First Monday)

Who benefits from the digital divide? (First Monday)

A decade of efforts to close the Divide (Digital divide.org)

APC latest annual report: 2006 - open access for all (APC)

Digital Scheherazade

Civil Society and National ICT Programmes: matchmaking ( ITDG)

Involving Civil Society in ICT Policy: the World Summit on the Information Society ( APC)

ICT Policy for Civil Society: Training Curriculum ( APC)

National ICT policies making in Africa: Implications for CSOs (Social Science Research Council)

Building the Future: Civil Society's Contribution Towards the Emergence of the Information Society in Cameroon (APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor)

Egypt ICT and Civil Society Country Report (APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor)

Fostering the Capacities of the Ethiopia Civil Society to Influence ICT Policies (APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor)

Regional Action Plans - WSIS Tunis Phase

Western Asia Regional Plan of Action (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia)

Latin America and Caribbean Regional Action Plan - eLAC 2007 (ECLAC)

Regional Action Plan towards the Information Society for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)

African Commitments for WSIS Tunis 2005 (African Regional Preparatory Conference for WSIS)

Some national experiences

A review of national information and communication technologies and a proposed National Electronic Initiative Framework (First Monday)

Brazil: Green Book (Sociedade da Informação Brasil)

Azerbaijan: National Information Communication Technologies Strategy Project (NICTS) (NICTS)

Ghana: National ICT Policy and Plan Development Committee (Ministry of Communications Ghana)

India: National Task Force on IT and Software Development (National Task Force on IT and Software Development)

India: Department of Information Technology (Ministry of Communications and Information Technology)

Jamaica: A five-year Strategic Information Technology Plan (Government of Jamaica)

Philippines: Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Council (ITECC) (Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Council)

Philippines' IT Action Agenda for the 21st Century (IT21) (National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA))

Rwanda: An Integrated ICT-led Socio-Economic Development Policy and Plan ( UNECA)

South African Information Technology Industry Strategy (SAITIS) (Department of Trade and Industry South Africa)

Tanzania National ICT Policy ( APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor)

Trinidad and Tobago's fastforward agenda ( The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)

Uganda: National Information and Communication Technology Policy ( LogosNet - International Labour Office (ILO))

E-strategies in Latin America and the Caribbean

Internet, Minorities and Solidarity Networks in Latin American and Caribbean Zone (1998-2001) (Social science research network)

How can ICTs in Latin America be made to benefit the poor? (International Development Research Center)

Progress and current state of development of Latin American and Caribbean information societies (ECLAC)

The information and knowledge society in LAC: Different approaches and their implications for policies (WSIS Papers)

ECLAC: Policy formulation for the information society (ECLAC)

Benchmarking the Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNPAN)

Connecting to Public Policy. An exploration of ICTs and Public Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean (Katherine Reilly Net)

Final Report ICT Policy and Strategic Plan (Red Sobre el Impacto Social de las TIC (RedISTIC))

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