Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the first Internet.org Summit in New Delhi, India. The Summit brings together like-minded thought leaders who are focused on addressing the lack of relevant localized content online. This is critical to Internet.org’s efforts to connect the two thirds of the world not yet connected. Simply providing access to the internet will not be enough if devices cannot support local languages and relevant content is not available.
Participants will share insights, network, and identify partnership opportunities to develop and distribute content that will increase internet penetration in India. At the Summit, Mark discussed the role localized content can play in bringing more Indians online. He also stressed the benefits connectivity can bring to those who are not yet connected.
This is part of Internet.org’s broader effort to accelerate connectivity in India by addressing a variety of barriers, including access to network infrastructure, affordability of devices and data plans, awareness of the value of the internet and the lack of relevant content and services.
Mark also announced the Internet.org Innovation Challenge, a contest for app developers to create unique, localized content that will help accelerate connectivity in rural India. Developers from around the world are invited to submit ideas and apps that impact the day-to-day lives of farmers, women, migrant workers or students. Judges include representatives from Facebook, Ericsson and Qualcomm. The winners will be announced at Mobile World Congress 2015 and share a total of $1 million.
Take a look at a few highlights from Mark’s keynote and download clips from the speech at the bottom of this post.
“Technology isn’t progress by itself. Instead it enables progress and a lot of the things that we care deeply about. But technology, it has to serve the whole of society. Connectivity can’t just be a privilege for some of the rich and powerful. It needs to be something that everyone shares and an opportunity for everyone.”
“Today, more than 80% percent of the content on the internet is in just 10 languages. So, for developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, a lot of the people just aren’t well represented online, especially in their local language. In India, there are 22 official languages and 11 scripts, and there are hundreds of other unofficial languages. But, even though a lot of people speak these languages, there isn’t a lot of content online in these languages. Most of the services that people use are just available in English and a few other languages. But if we want to connect everyone in the world, then we really need to build services that reflect the languages in the way that people speak and communicate.”
“So connecting the world is not something that any one company can do by itself. We have to work together with developers and entrepreneurs and businesses and leaders and governments to deliver all of these services and the content that people need.”
“Connecting the world, we really believe, is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation. And, you know, progress is going to be difficult here, and it’s not guaranteed. But, I think if we work together, we can really make a big impact on knocking down some of these barriers to connectivity both here in India and all over the world.”