Dr Colin Blackman
Over the past decade the internet has become a vital part of everyday life for the majority of Europeans and over two billion people across the world. This is likely to expand to seven billion by 2020 as the sophistication in mobile phone technology transforms them into internet access devices. Furthermore, the growth of connectivity of internet-enabled devices, eg the internet of things, will increase this substantially. This explosion in connectivity will redefine the very nature of the internet and, most importantly, the fabric of social, cultural, political and economic institutions globally.
The need to better understand these complexities is the starting point for this report, which was written in 2009/2010 for the European Commission’s DG Information Society and Media. Viewing the internet as a societal artefact, a form of a very large sociotechnical structure, whose design has to be human-oriented, holistic and user-centric, it asks: ‘How can we guide the evolution of the internet so that it best serves the needs of society?’