Oct 212012

Sweden is the most effective at using the Internet to improve people’s lives, ahead of the United States and Britain, according to a global survey launched by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Matt Cowan reports.

A study of the World Wide Web, instigated by the person who invented it. Tim Berners Lee came up with the idea for the web while working at the European Nuclear Research Centre CERN in 1989. Now, his World Wide Web foundation has produced the first ever global Web Index, weighing the relative impact of the web on countries around the world. Sweden was found to be the best place in the world to put the web to work. The United States ranked second and Britain third. SOUNDBITE:Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web Inventor, saying (English) “What’s important about the index is it looks at lots of different things and some countries do well in some, and some in another. The laws. Some people have a lot of connectivity but nobody’s really using it for important things that affect your life like health care and so on.” Actor, writer and technology enthusiast Stephen Fry made an appearance to give the Swedish Ambassador to the UK a letter marking her country’s achievement. He predicted the Web Index – which will now be produced annually – will become an important benchmark. SOUNDBITE: Stephen Fry, Actor, saying (English): “What’s really important is that it isn’t done by the American government, and it isn’t done by the United Nations where there are vetoes around, that it is done by a body that is trusted and it can only really be trusted if it’s headed by Tim Berners-Lee.” SOUNDBITE: Matt Cowan, Technology Correspondent, saying (English) “The index surveyed the use and impact of the web in 61 countries around the world. Countries were ranked according to criteria such as the quality of their communications and institutional infrastructure as well as what proportion of their population has access to the web. And while the main purpose of this survey is to underscore the importance of the world wide web. It also demontrates it is still largely an untapped resource with only one in three people using it globally.” This digital divide is something Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt addressed in a recent speech at London’s Science Museum. SOUNDBITE: Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman, speaking on May 23, 2012 saying (English): “There’s no more viable seed for growing new industry than technological innovation and the web is a good case in point. Less than 25 years old, it’s already a platform for more than 8 percent of the UK GDP. Congratulations. And by the way, you’re among if not the world leader in this. Just imagine how much better the web will get with this extra five billion people. More innovation. More creativity. More opportunity.” Seven of the bottom 10 countries in the Web Index are from Africa where only 1 in 6 people use the web. The web’s inventor hopes this new yard stick will focus minds to help propel the web forward, making it more useful in more places. Matt Cowan, Reuters.

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