“It’s not ok not to understand the internet anymore.” The words of the late internet activist Aaron Swartz were echoed in Martha Lane Fox’s speech at the Richard Dimbleby lecture yesterday.
The co-founder of Lastminute.com used the platform to call on the UK Government to form a public institution aiming to make Britain the ‘most digital nation on the planet’. Dubbed Dot Everyone, the body should be used to support the civic, public and non-commercial side of the internet equation.
In her speech Baroness Fox said: “We’re going too slow, being too incremental. We need to be bolder. A new institution could be the catalyst we need to shape the world we want to live in and Britain’s role in that world.”
What really resonated with me was when Baroness Fox cited figures suggesting 10 million adults are not online, along with 70 per cent of small businesses. Helping these businesses get online could add £18 billion to the economy, she added.
On top of this, the internet now touches every part of our lives and can be a genuine force for good. So much has changed since the early days of the web, and having a recognised industry body to help shape its place in our lives can only be a good thing.
In her speech Baroness Lane Fox, who is also a cross-party member of the House of Lords, said Dot Everyone should look at three priority areas of focus:
- Improving our understanding of the internet at all levels of our society
- Getting more women involved in technology
- Tackling the new, ‘thorny ethical and moral issues’ the internet has created
She added: “Britain invented the BBC, the NHS – let’s not have poverty of ambition – we can and should be inventing the definitive public institution for our digital age.”
What we have found from Fujitsu’s own Digital Inside Out report is that we’re on the cusp of being a Digital First Nation. However, these concerns around a perceived lack of skills and education remain a critical issue which needs to be addressed, leaving exciting opportunities yet to be fully realised.
I strongly believe that the organisations that put digital at the heart of everything they do will be the ones to prosper in the next ten years.
Having a grassroots movement to enhance everyone’s understanding, access and skills around the web will improve this massively.
If you want to back Baroness Fox’s call for a Dot Everyone – you can sign her Change.org petition here.
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