This is for everyone imageAfter looking through a report called:

This is for everyone” – The Case for Universal Digitisation
(Booz & Co, Nov 2012)

I was particularly struck by a paragraph hidden away on page 20:

Unlocking the benefits for individuals
The Internet can be a leveler in a socially divided world; it can mean the difference between work and unemployment, inclusion and exclusion, and happiness and depression. We therefore argue that more needs to be done to increase Internet usage than just offering higher speeds and lower costs. Unless the people who are not connected today are aware of the benefits of being online, unlocking the full digital potential of the Internet will remain a dream.

This, to me, is what it all boils down to. Unless people can see what’s in it for them, they just won’t engage. In the same way that the offer of higher speeds and lower costs isn’t seen as the answer to increasing Internet usage, how can the ‘incentive’ of money in the form of benefits (‘The wood for the trees’ post, 14 Nov) be relied upon to get more people online and digitally included rather than excluded?

The title of the Booz & Co report came from Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, himself when he tweeted from the centre of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, “This is for everyone”. Talking to CNN Sir Tim said:

“The Web is about connecting people through technology, not about documents. The Olympics are about connecting people too. It would be nice if the Olympics bring people to use the Web to understand each other, break down national and cultural barriers and look at each other from a more beautiful point of view.”

Surely that’s how we want people to come to the internet, through a desire to connect to others, not just as a new way of claiming benefits.