I came across this interesting article on the BBC News website a few days ago. It was written by Michael Geist, Internet law professor at the University of Ottawa. He talks about how the next billion users of the Internet will influence the Internet.

The article is best summed up in the last 2 paragraphs (emphasis mine):

the next billion is an enormously positive story. A tale of improving economic condition that will allow for much broader participation in the communication, culture, and commercial opportunities most Canadians now take for granted.

As we welcome the next billion, we must recognise that they will do more than just use the internet. They will help reshape it in their own image and with their own values, languages, and cultures.

You see why bringing Internet technology is important for developing nations? Of course, food, water and shelter (and non-corrupt government—actually, the rest of the world needs that, too) are important and they will never be replaced by technological aid :p However, the technology will help them grow food, water, etc., as described by Nii Quaynor, professor of computer science at the University of Cape-Coast, Ghana. After all, it works for us in the West.

Internet use is growing rapidly in developing nations and will make up the majority of the next billion users. These users won’t be speaking English as a first language (or at all?) and they will have different views about online issues such as privacy, copyright, free speech, etc.

They’ll also be using cheaper (free) open source software programs. Well, we all know Microsoft is going to try to change that.

They’ll also be using mobile technology (cellphones, XO laptop) and satellites for access. Actually, they may even have mobile wireless access points. Michael mentions that this will affect the way we code websites. Imagine trying to code your website to display properly across even more multiple platforms.

Imagine the way social media would look like then? You can play Scrabulous with a friend in Africa.You can use your iPhone clone to not only download music in the middle of the rain forest (what’s left of it),you can also chat with your family back home.

A school kid living in the desert can meet other fans from around the world of his (or her) favourite band. Imagine the videos on YouTube!