Research for Global Development

How big is our world?


Since at least the time of Eratosthenes, around 200 BC, people have been trying to find ways of measuring the size of our world.

Today, the question is not so much the size of the physical world but that of the digital environments to which people have access. As Ben Hammersley put it, the internet is the dominant platform for life in the 21st century. Two questions follow – how big is it? and what will it mean?

Last year Burson-Marsteller produced an infographic showing the size and growth of the digital population in the Asia-Pacific. In the last few months, Opera have released reports on the State of the mobile web in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

Of the many useful insights in the State of the mobile web it highlights,

The country of Myanmar (Burma) sees particularly strong growth out of the larger Asia Pacific countries, with a 900% growth in users and 500+ % growth in pageviews.

This reiterates the finding in a recent InterMedia report:

Communication technologies such as computers, USB drives and illegal Chinese mobile phones have begun entering North Korea in substantial numbers in recent years, with use concentrated among political and economic elite.

As access to connective technology evolves, the volume of bandwidth available globally will continue to influence the size of our digital world. The 2012 Global Internet Map demonstrates the current level of connectivity between physical locations.

Showing the changes from the 2011 Global Internet Map:

A final consideration on the connectivity which supports communication are the submarine cables:

 

What will it mean?

The size, connectivity and resulting speed of the digital world will influence the impact of many innovations currently developed, for example, the app winners of Pivot East announced in June. These include EasyOrder built by Afro Cyber Inc.  Solutions – an SMS based mobile ordering and supply chain management application developed to simplify the way customers order for goods from manufacturers and distributors.

Equally the full impact of solutions such as metaLayer (which makes the world’s information easier to understand, visualize, and share) will rely on the ability to access and transmit data in reasonable time-frames.

Ultimately the ability to connect to the digital world is the first step, the speed at which an individual can traverse our digital world will continue to be a challenge, depending in part on their access point. Additionally, speed will depend on the size of our digital world, the connectivity of the network and the capacity of the network to absorb the growing digital population.

To end back where we started, how big will our world become? – like Eratosthenes we can only estimate, but we know that impact will be profound. Ben Hammersley highlighted the impact that  Moore’s law has on society with a simple illustration;

two term Prime Minister today would end his term of office with an iPhone 64 times as powerful as the one he won the election with. (Or the same thing, but 1/64th of the price.)

Such rapid expansion of technological capability should mean that on a practical level data capture, storage and analysis become easier. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently; A device the size of your thumb could store as much information as the whole Internet

However, if the internet emerges as the dominant platform for life in the 21st century it will impact the way we conduct research:

  • The data we are able to collect through unobtrusive methods will be increasingly large and increasingly complex.
  • The massive increase in the quantity of available information will cause the humans we study to develop coping mechanisms, to filter and find that which we may find useful.
  • The research questions and hypotheses we develop will have to respond to the increased complexity of the available data and the evolution of human behaviours as we adapt to the increasing prominence and size of our digital world.

 

InterMedia

How big is our world?


Since at least the time of Eratosthenes, around 200 BC, people have been trying to find ways of measuring the size of our world.

Today, the question is not so much the size of the physical world but that of the digital environments to which people have access. As Ben Hammersley put it, the internet is the dominant platform for life in the 21st century. Two questions follow – how big is it? and what will it mean?

Last year Burson-Marsteller produced an infographic showing the size and growth of the digital population in the Asia-Pacific. In the last few months, Opera have released reports on the State of the mobile web in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

Of the many useful insights in the State of the mobile web it highlights,

The country of Myanmar (Burma) sees particularly strong growth out of the larger Asia Pacific countries, with a 900% growth in users and 500+ % growth in pageviews.

This reiterates the finding in a recent InterMedia report:

Communication technologies such as computers, USB drives and illegal Chinese mobile phones have begun entering North Korea in substantial numbers in recent years, with use concentrated among political and economic elite.

As access to connective technology evolves, the volume of bandwidth available globally will continue to influence the size of our digital world. The 2012 Global Internet Map demonstrates the current level of connectivity between physical locations.

Showing the changes from the 2011 Global Internet Map:

A final consideration on the connectivity which supports communication are the submarine cables:

 

What will it mean?

The size, connectivity and resulting speed of the digital world will influence the impact of many innovations currently developed, for example, the app winners of Pivot East announced in June. These include EasyOrder built by Afro Cyber Inc.  Solutions – an SMS based mobile ordering and supply chain management application developed to simplify the way customers order for goods from manufacturers and distributors.

Equally the full impact of solutions such as metaLayer (which makes the world’s information easier to understand, visualize, and share) will rely on the ability to access and transmit data in reasonable time-frames.

Ultimately the ability to connect to the digital world is the first step, the speed at which an individual can traverse our digital world will continue to be a challenge, depending in part on their access point. Additionally, speed will depend on the size of our digital world, the connectivity of the network and the capacity of the network to absorb the growing digital population.

To end back where we started, how big will our world become? – like Eratosthenes we can only estimate, but we know that impact will be profound. Ben Hammersley highlighted the impact that  Moore’s law has on society with a simple illustration;

two term Prime Minister today would end his term of office with an iPhone 64 times as powerful as the one he won the election with. (Or the same thing, but 1/64th of the price.)

Such rapid expansion of technological capability should mean that on a practical level data capture, storage and analysis become easier. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently; A device the size of your thumb could store as much information as the whole Internet

However, if the internet emerges as the dominant platform for life in the 21st century it will impact the way we conduct research:

  • The data we are able to collect through unobtrusive methods will be increasingly large and increasingly complex.
  • The massive increase in the quantity of available information will cause the humans we study to develop coping mechanisms, to filter and find that which we may find useful.
  • The research questions and hypotheses we develop will have to respond to the increased complexity of the available data and the evolution of human behaviours as we adapt to the increasing prominence and size of our digital world.

 

Marketing Materials

Contact Us:

InterMedia Headquarters

1825 K Street, NW
Suite 650
Washington, D.C. 20006
+1.202.434.9310
FAX: +1 202 434 9560
Contact | View Map

InterMedia Africa

UN Avenue, Gigiri Nairobi
Box 10224
City Square 00200
Nairobi, Kenya
+254.720.109183
Contact | View Map