Here’s a great tool to start using in your classroom. The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has just unveiled his latest project: The Web Index. It’s a look at how the web has affected countries around the world. There are only 61 countries measured so far but Berners-Lee says the data will continue to flow in as the index grows.
The Web Index is filled with sortable tables, interactive maps, and filterable data. It’s definitely worth checking out and would be a great tool for classes in science, math, geography, web design, and more.
So who leads the way? Not the United States, believe it or not. Not even Japan or Finland.
Sweden is the best country in the world at making the web work for its citizens, according to the index. Meanwhile, Yemen and Zimbabwe are the leas effective.
So how does it work? According to the BBC:
It ranks countries by how much benefit their citizens derive from the web and how it has transformed areas such as politics, economics and society. It also assesses any barriers a country has to allowing its citizens to access a free and open web, finding that around 30% of countries face some sort of government restriction.
The Top 20 Countries
The BBC Interview With Berners-Lee
The BBC also asked Berners-Lee a few questions about the Web Index. I’ve picked off some of my favorites and excerpted the answers. Be sure to read the full article for the entire interview. It’s well worth it.
Why build the web index?
Tim Berners-Lee and others at the Web Foundation noticed there were lots of stories and anecdotes about how the web had transformed people’s lives through education, social networks, politics and so on. But there was very little data as such.
Were there any questions you just couldn’t answer or find data for?
Some of the questions that many people kept asking were ‘how many pages are on the web?’ and ‘how many pages are there in each language?’ Those data do not exist because there is no centralised unit – a web central intelligence unit of sorts. When we looked at other questions, especially in the area of web impact, we could also see that there was a massive data gap. So, I said let’s gather our own data. We identified experts in all 61 countries and asked them about 60 questions.
What does it mean to be the top country or even the bottom country?
That is the question isn’t it? The idea is that if you are at the top, then the people in that country are – according to this index – getting the most value from the web. And at the bottom they are getting the least value. The index is a tool for leaders and policy makers so that they can use the web much more effectively to improve people’s lives, be it economic, social or political.
Why were there only 61 countries included?
One of the reasons was getting consistent and comparable data. But to be honest, we were also limited on resources. Google kindly gave us the initial seed funding, but it is expensive to do this kind of thing, particularly collecting your own data. And so we ended up being able to choose close to 65 but we had to leave out a couple because we weren’t too happy with the results. We had to get a spread of countries across the different continents. So it wasn’t an active decision for instance to leave out Denmark or Saudi Arabia.
Will you try to fill these gaps in subsequent years?
One of the things I would like to do is for sure add more countries and add more survey questions to cover more of the areas, as well as the negative effects.