Kim H. Veltman
Trends and Challenges for Digital Culture
EVA Moscow, December 2007
This paper reviews major developments in the Internet, which has grown from less than 1 million in 1987 to over 1.2 billion fixed line users in 2007. It focuses on developments in five areas: networks, grids, multilingualism, multiple forms of knowledge and a need to study underlying cultural themes. While the trend to scan tens of millions of books and cultural objects marks an important step forward, it is necessarily a first step rather than a final goal. The new commitment to digitization of knowledge requires new levels of bibliographical control, new sensitivity to cultural differences in terms of what we say, express, do and know and a new commitment to explore underlying themes we have in common.
6. Underlying Cultural Themes
In the ten years since EVA came to Moscow as an idea and a vision, the networked world of computers has changed dramatically. In 1987, the world had less than a million Internet users. In 1997, Russia had less than a million users. In 2007, the number of users in Russia is 28 million1, more than all the users in the United Kingdom. This is part of a larger trend. In 2007, Brazil has 39 million users, more than all the users in France. In June 2007, Europe had 91 million more users than the US and Asia had 187 million more users than the US. The United States, which seemed to be at the centre of Internet developments in 1987, today represents 19% of users world-wide. There are now c. 1.2 billion fixed line users and it is estimated that there will be over 750 million mobile Internet users by the end of the year, which means that in 2008 there will be over 2 billion Internet users. India has produced a Simputer (Simple Computer) designed to be used even by illiterate persons. Meanwhile, a new company in India is working on a $70 computer which plans to reach a further 1 billion persons in the next decade. At this rate, well over 3 billion persons will have access to the Internet by 2020. Given developments in digital radio and television transmission, and ongoing work to produce mobile Internet devices for as little as $10, for the first time ever, there is a possibility of creating a communication infrastructure, which will affect literally everyone.
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