by Mark Ollig
Tim Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Foundation.
Berners-Lee is, of course, most famous for being the person who invented the hyper-linking program, which became the World Wide Web.
His program consists of the set of rules which allows us to connect and interact with content available on the Internet via our web browsers.
Since its creation in 1989, the Web has evolved greatly from being just an informational content source.
Today, we use the Web as a social networking venue for keeping in touch with family and friends, and for communicating with others about local, state, country, and global issues.
Using the Web, we obtain government resources and information, conduct business, learn new skills, and so much more.
The World Wide Web Foundation recently released a report showing the rankings of the countries which are best utilizing the Web.
Multi-country questionnaires used to obtain the primary data were scored by experts and professionals in a number of fields from each country. These scores were then checked and verified by the peers and regional reviewers for each country.
The country Web index rankings were also compiled using several existing sources, along with specific information obtained from 2007 to 2011 from 61 countries. This information was then combined, creating a composite index score.
Although many sources were used for the final ranking scores, the overall Web Index comes from the scores computed within three sub-indexes:
• communications and institutional infrastructure sores;
• Web content and Web use scores; and
• political, economic, and social impact scores.
The final index rankings represent the countries which have progressed faster and more effectively in harnessing and developing the Web as the facilitator and means of increasing growth in these sub-indexes.
The World Wide Web Foundation says they hope this Web Index “will help deepen and broaden our understanding of the impact of this most powerful tool [the Web] on humanity.”
Berners-Lee says he hopes the Web Index will be used to inquire further into issues such as government openness and censorship.
He also anticipates additional countries and indexes will be included in future Web Index releases.
The Web contains more than 1-trillion public pages and more than 3.4 billion users, according to the World Wide Web Foundation.
At the top of this year’s Web Index ranking is Sweden, with a Web Index score of 100.
Sweden had high marks over the three sub-indexes; scoring first for political, second for social, and third for economic impact.
According to the report’s data, 91 percent of Sweden’s population is using the Web.
The US ranked second on the list with a Web Index score of 97.31
One reason the US came in second was because of its lower communications infrastructure score.
The US also ranked lower than Sweden in the social, economic, and political impact scores.
I was somewhat surprised to read from the report, that the US has a lower percentage of households with personal computers than a number of other countries, such as Canada, Ireland, Japan, and Norway.
The US did score the highest for institutional infrastructure, Web content, and Web use.
Other reasons the US did not take the top spot is because of its slower Internet bandwidth speeds – which average around 47.2 megabits per second.
The US received high scores for the quality and usefulness of government websites which provide online information and services for its citizens.
Third place in the Web Index rankings goes to the United Kingdom, which surpasses the US with its higher percentage of mobile and broadband subscriptions.
The UK also tops the US in the category of average Internet broadband speed, with a reported 166.1 megabits per second.
“The scale and quality of available content has been boosted by various public sector initiatives,” said the foundation’s report regarding the UK.
The UK scored 93.83 on the Foundation’s Web Index.
The ranking and scores of the remaining seven countries in the top 10 are:
• Canada, 93.42.
• Finland, 91.88.
• Switzerland, 90.49.
• New Zealand, 89.15.
• Australia, 88.44.
• Norway, 87.76.
• Ireland, 87.42.
With regards to the Web, Berners-Lee said, “We want to take this issue about whether or not people are a part of the information society, and help increase awareness that it’s as important as access to water and vaccinations – it’s not a secondary issue.”
In the foundation’s report, Berners-Lee talks about his vision over the long term; he hopes the Web will be used as the framework to support “true cultural transformation.”
“The real key is to embrace other cultures, to get to know one another at the global level,” Berners-Lee said.
This quote should give us pause to reflect upon how we communicate with others around the world when in social chat rooms, or other online venues. We need to be mindful of the values and beliefs of other cultures.
The World Wide Web Foundation is located at http://www.webfoundation.org.