Internet access is something which those who have daily unquestionable access to take for granted. Last week my power went, and after running out of phone battery, and not being able to tether my laptop to my phone as a hotspot, I came to the realisation just how much I take internet access for granted. Its frictionless to watch a movie, to find news updates. But in some places, it’s not so easy. The ‘internets’ blackholes as visualised by the image on the left shows green lines spanning across oceans, connecting from one side of the globe to the other, with these large black spots highlighting those who are without access to the means of reading this blog post, or anything online. Lybia and China of the two largest to note.
There are many data sets containing detailed information with regard to internet access.
WorldBank.Org offer an overview of internet users per hundred. One thing I want to mention and direct attention towards is the fact that, as a cultural question, I wish to investigate internet access a worldwide.If you dig a little deeper you’ll realise, just because someone is not an internet user, does not mean they don’t have access to the internet.
It’s essential to keep this at the forefront of one’s mind when considering this, the difference between those who actively USE the internet versus those who have access.
Locating and Interrogating a data set, being the bones of the assignment was the most challenging. I found that in most cases that less is more.
There are many HTML, XML files online which offer masses amounts of data. For this question which I explored, which at its essence is a simple question, just there seems to be a fine line between those who actively use the web, and those who simply can not. I have located various data sets and images and visual.
In Cuba, population of 11 Million in 2011 only 16% of those used the internet, in 2015 that has nearly doubled to 30% but still a measly figure in comparison to Ireland’s 80%+. The World Bank’s data set presents us with annual figures for (per 100 people) of those who have access to the internet and who use it.
Notably in the graph, a large boost in those using the internet can be seen from 2011-2012. Which does not naturally correlate with any sort of technological advancements in industry or worldwide availability, simply it was not widely available because of legislation, and Cubans were not invested with technology and there was never a strong technological presence there.
Cuba has one official means of media, and that is the state and solely the state. Not only is the fact that they have internet the factor of importance, but also the quality of the content which they aren’t blocked from finding is essential. Castro rule imposes large internet restrictions. Those who wish to use the internet in Cuba have to be granted permission to legally use the internet. Most do not.
China, population of 1.3 Billion in 2011, had 38.3 per 100 citizens online and having actively used the internet, in 5 years that has increased by a full 10%. Passing out the average for the rest of the world between 2008 and 2009. But similar to Cuba, one could say that this is a positive increase. More people on the internet means more diverse interaction and better representation. One could look at these figures and think that, but look a little deeper and you’ll find just how limited the Chinese access is, and the extent of the filter placed on search results.
Upon further examination of this data set, I realised that one could invest a lifetime examining each country and its own individual cultural economic and social reasons for increases in users per 100 etc. After running through most countries and noting changes in figures, I realised that there was no a single country that decreased in users. That led me to question, other such things that has had such consistent and steady (be it slow in many countries as mentioned above) increases in conformity worldwide. I don’t think we would see similar results in any other field or phenomenon.
Finding data on this was difficult as there was no sign of any data sets of any format which will separate the non users from the non users who have access. Sure I could have done my assignment on how many people use the internet instead, but I believe it begs a more deeper cultural question as to the actual access of the internet.Its as if Internet access is fast becoming a necessity for life, food, water, shelter, warmth and a fibre optic cable.
I downloaded the XML (click here to download) file, and the CSV file from the World Bank page. I tried putting the XML through various visualisers, but it was not formatted correctly to produce an image.
I attempted to visualise data from, but did not find the results to be of note of use. Gephi requires a different type of data, one with connections and intertwining in order to create an interesting graphic, the figures from data sets like these are very difficult to visualise.
The GIF below was something which took me a while to think of, although incredibly simple. At first it took me a few seconds to calibrate my understanding of the graph. Each dot represents a country, essentially what this graph highlights is the growth of internet users per 100 since 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, the two alternating images are screenshots of these two periods. So what can we observe? The looping GIF gives us a sense that in 9 years, some countries have not changed at all. Those countries who’s ‘points’ appear large on the map are not the ones to look at. If a country already had an 80% user percentage in 2006 its improvement will by minimal. Notably countries such as Australia, New Zealand, The US Canada, Greenland and the UK and Ireland don’t seem to budge in size. Rather we should be turning our attention to the points which are minute and have no enlarged at all. Keeping in mind these points represent users per 100, many african countries have seen absolutely zero increase in percentage users.
This is not down to a lack of interest, or a lack of need. This is simply down to a lack of access.
To conclude from my research, there are very few data sets available on the matter with global measures, the world bank contained a data set which was not necessarily strictly what I intended to find in the first place, but it presented a much better idea of who uses the internet and where. It brought to light for me the idea that the issue is access, and that clearly from the GIF below, in 9 years many countries have seen minimal increase in those using the internet, and while the rest of the worlds citizens are becoming increasingly familiar with the ins and outs of the internet, many countries are being left in the dust.
Internet Access “Census” Accessed 1st April 2016 https://data.gov.uk/dataset/internet_access
RSF “the internets black holes”Accessed 3rd April 2016 https://rsf.org//intnernet-black-holes
Data World Bank ‘Cuba’ Data & Graph. http://data.worldbank.org/country/cuba
Data World Bank ‘China’ Data & Graph.http://data.worldbank.org/country/china
Gephi Program Accessed 10th April 2016 https://gephi.org
Data on Users Per 100 “Internet Users Per 100” Accessed March 27th 2016