Title: Counting Internet Users and calculating divides
Author: Rohan Samarajiv
Date (published): 22/09/2010
Date (accessed): 26/09/2010
Type of information: blog post
On-line access: yes (HTML)
"The ITU dataset is the mother lode, mined by all. But sometimes, it is good to interrogate the quality of what the ITU produces. The most recent instance of ITU data being subject to sophisticated analysis without any attention being paid to the quality of the data is by noted ICT4D scholar, Richard Heeks.
In a previous essay, Heeks interrogated the numbers emanating from the ITU on “mobile subscriptions.” It is a pity the same was not done in the recent piece on Internet and broadband.
For example, the ITU reports that Afghanistan had 2,000 Internet subscriptions and 1,000,000 Internet users, indicating the use of a multiplier of 500. In other words, the Afghan administration is asking us to believe that each Internet connection is used by 500 people, in addition to asking us to accept nice round numbers on the subscriptions indicator.
This illustrates the biggest weakness of the ITU’s definition of an Internet User: each national administration is allowed to use a multiplier of its choice to derive the number of Internet users from the number of Internet subscribers, in the absence of demand-side surveys, the first-best way of obtaining the indicator. No low-income countries have reported demand-side survey results. Therefore, the Internet user numbers reported by the ITU are tainted by the use of arbitrary multipliers such as the 500 used by Afghanistan (this is the most outrageous multiplier we found; most are more reasonable). But the point is that it is wrong to permit national administrations which may have incentives to look good in terms of Internet connectivity to use multipliers without any rational basis. LIRNEasia is in the process of developing a practical solution to the problem of the multiplier that will be published shortly."
Global ICT Statistics on Internet Usage, Mobile, Broadband: 1998-2009 by Richard Heeks
Title: Twelve years of measuring linguistic diversity in the Internet: balance and perspectives
Authors: Daniel Pimienta, Daniel Prado and Álvaro Blanco
Pages: 65 pp.
Publisher: UNESCO 2009
Date (published): 06/03/2010
Date (accessed): 08/03/2010
Type of information: report
Language: English, French
On-line access: yes (pdf)
...an update to the previous UNESCO study on this subject that was issued for the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005.
FUNREDES and Union Latine have designed an original research method to measure linguistic diversity in cyberspace. The aim was to use search engines and a sample of word-concepts to measure the proportionate presence of these concepts in their various linguistic equivalences.
Research, undertaken from 1996 to 2008, enabled interesting indicators to be built to measure linguistic diversity. The paper describes the research method and its results, advantages and limitations. It also provides an overview of existing alternative methods and results, for comparison.
The paper concludes with the examination of different perspectives in the field which have in the past been considered to have been characterized by a lack of scientific rigor. This has led to some misinformation about the dominant presence of English on the Web. It is a topic that is only now slowly attracting due attention from international organizations and the academic world.