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WWW2011: Focusing on internet's next billion users

Thursday March 24, 2011 06:35:54 PM, Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS

Hyderabad: Did you know that less than 10 percent of the Indian population uses the world wide web? Or that the next billion users of the internet will come from emerging markets like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Russia?

The future of the web will be under discussion at the 20th international World Wide Web Conference (WWW2011) here, a prestigious event that India, with one of the world's fastest growing population of internet users, will host for the first time. Beginning March 28, it will be attended by 800 delegates from 49 countries.

"The conference will debate the future of the Web, which is important for India," S. Sadagopan, director of the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Bangalore, told IANS.

"It is more relevant for India, especially in the context of high mobile penetration among the younger generation, improving literacy levels, large young and English-speaking population."

IIIT, Bangalore, in cooperation with the IIIT, Hyderabad, and the Institute of Information Technology, Bombay (Mumbai) , is hosting the event.

The five-day meet has the theme "web for all". It will debate technical challenges in overcoming the digital divide and ways to bring the web to underserved populations. The event will be addressed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the WWW Conference director and inventor of the web. It will also have research papers that can shape the web of tomorrow.

World wide web currently has two billion users. However, of the 4.8 billion people living in Asia and Africa, only one in five has access to the web. In India, for instance, the 100 million web users constitute less than 10 percent of the total population of 1.2 billion.

The event will discuss challenges like developing content in local languages, poor PC penetration and lack of infrastructure to connect the next billion users.

WWW2011 will discuss, debate and help set the future direction of the Web. It will focus on the regional and global impact of expanding open Web platform for application development.

Tim Berners-Lee will deliver a visionary keynote address on "designing the web for an open society".

With the social media witnessing explosive growth, there will also be a panel discussion on "Social media: source of information or bunch of noise?".

According to conference organizers, Wikipedia has over 3.5 million pages with descriptions of entities. Flickr members have uploaded over five billion photos, YouTube has 35 hours of videos uploaded to the site each minute, and Twitter users generate 65 million tweets a day.

Is there useful information in social media like tweets, how to sift through the vast amounts of social media and filter out the spam/offensive content are some of the questions the participants will debate.

The participants include chief information officers, IT directors and decision-makers from the public and private sector and researchers, technologists and developers from institutions and technology-driven businesses.

There will be 81 technical papers, 90 posters, 25 demos, 12 tutorials, nine workshops and a PhD Symposium.

"It is a research conference. It brings out best of the research in the world," said Sadagopan. Referring to the quality of research, he said 80 best papers were selected from almost 700 papers submitted from around the world.

The accepted papers have been put into various categories like search, local language content, access, privacy, avoiding pornography, data mining.

These research papers shape the Web of tomorrow. Technologies and scientific innovations come from such a research.

"Many technologies which we take for granted today in fact came from award- winning papers of yesterday."

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at





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