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The Web Index 2012

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Craig Jackson

Front End Web Developer

In an attempt to reveal the worldwide impact of the internet, the World Wide Web Foundation has designed and produced the Web Index. The Web Index is based on a study launched by Tim Berners-Lee. According to the website, The Web Index is “the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations. It covers 61 developed and developing countries, incorporating indicators that assess the political, economic and social impact of the Web, as well as indicators of Web connectivity and infrastructure.” In a press release that accompanied the launch of the Web Index 2012, it stated that the countries that were best able to put the web to work were Sweden, the USA and then the United Kingdom. However, it pointed out that in much of the world, the web was a “largely untapped resource”, something which may seem almost un-imaginable in a society such as ours. It states that one in three people are using it globally and in Africa the statistic is lower still, at one in six. The statement pointed out that the main barriers to usage were the price of connectivity and online censorship, going on to say that “The Web is a global conversation. Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the Web”. The Web Index is going to be published annually and will eventually look to provide “comparisons of trends over time and the benchmarking of performance across countries, continuously improving our understanding of the Web's value for humanity”. One thing that surprised me was seeing Sweden at the top of the Index despite coming twelfth when it came to the use and breadth of the web. The report indicated that the reason for this was that the information available to the users in Sweden was relatively low compared to the other highly ranked countries, despite roughly 91 per cent of the Swedish people using the web. It was nice to see that the United Kingdom remained in at least the top 9 countries for ALL components. The United Kingdom’s highest rank was for Web Content. I don’t think it will be too much of a surprise to see which countries are lower down the Index, with Yemen being the only country to rank lower than Zimbabwe, scoring a 0 for Web Impact. The ranking of Pakistan (44th) did come as somewhat of a surprise however. The Index shows that Pakistan is not managing to fare any better than some countries with a worse socioeconomic profile, the social impact of the web in Pakistan was particularly poor. Find out more at http://thewebindex.org/.