WITH A LOT of debate currently underway about the development of the Internet, both in terms of form and function, the World Wide Web Foundation (W3F) has expanded it operations globally to help promote the web for good causes.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, one of the Foundation's board members, detailed two of the organisation's latest partnerships at the 2009 Internet Governance Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
The first is The Web Alliance for Re-greening in Africa (W4RA), in which the Foundation is working with the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands to assist farmers in countries like Mali to communicate with agricultural specialists via mobile voice and data.
"The W4RA facilitates the sharing of successful agricultural techniques developed by farmers for others to raise crops in the arid conditions of the Sahel, where climate change and drought threaten the livelihood of entire communities," explained Steve Bratt, chief executive officer of the W3F.
"This project meets one of Web Foundation's main objectives - to assist people to leverage the web as a medium for sharing life-critical content and dialog, and thus using the web as an agent of social and economic progress."
The W3F has also teamed up with the Centre for Digital Inclusion (CDI) based in Brazil, in order to teach disadvantaged youngsters how to use information technology in the hopes of making them more employable.
Five pilot training programs will be established in inner-city community centres in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
The Foundation reckons that while about a quarter of us access the web, around 70 per cent of people around the world have access to some sort of web capable device. It is precisely this gap that it is trying to address by teaching people how to access the Internet and the potential benefits it can provide.
"We are enthusiastic about this partnership because we believe the combined expertise of CDI and Web Foundation has the potential to create powerful innovation in the use of mobile, voice and graphical technologies," added Rodrigo Baggio, founder and executive director of the CDI.
"By empowering impoverished communities to create and share relevant content through mobile phones and other devices, we will expand our work of transforming lives and communities."
The two projects mark the launch of global operations for the W3F, with similar projects aimed at using the web to help improve the lives of people around the world in the pipeline. µ