The first-ever Internet.org Summit kicked off in New Delhi, India, Thursday, and highlights included a talk by Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as well as the introduction of the Internet.org Innovation Challenge, which is aimed at recognizing efforts toward connecting people in India who currently lack Internet access.
Internet.org — the initiative launched in August 2013 by Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to connect those without Internet access — said it will present four $250,000 prizes to the leading application, website, service and idea that help connect women, students, farmers and migrant workers in India who lack access to the Internet, adding that two $25,000 Impact Award prizes will also be presented in each category.
Internet.org said in its announcement of the Internet.org Innovation Challenge:
Making sure everyone around the world has access to the Internet requires companies, governments and individuals to work together to remove connectivity barriers. Fully realizing Internet.org’s vision of a connected world will require giving people access to apps, websites and services that are relevant to their lives and readable in their own languages.
Today we’re announcing the Internet.org Innovation Challenge in India, an effort to recognize those who are working to make the internet more relevant to four populations that are currently underserved in India: women, students, farmers and migrant workers.
These communities face some of the largest structural barriers to going online, and the content they find once they are connected is often of little value.
As for Zuckerberg’s keynote address (embedded below), Facebook provided highlights in a Newsroom 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.
Readers: What did you think of Zuckerberg’s comments?