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Weaving a Web to embrace a billion-plus people

Dr Abdul Kalam on challenges facing the Internet of tomorrow
( text of his inaugural address to the WWW conference in Hyderabad, India, March 30 2011)

I am delighted to participate and deliver the Key Note Address at the 20th International Worldwide Web Conference at Hyderabad. My greetings to IIIT Bangalore for conducting this conference, for the first time in India. I am happy to know that the theme for WWW 2011 is "Web for All" to promote the all inclusive aspect of Web, important for all the nations. I would like to talk to you on the topic "Web for Societal Transformation"

Integrating Information with the real world "SixthSense"
One of the inventors of Sixth Sense Pranav Mistry from MIT Media Lab met me in 2005 at Rashtrapati Bhavan. SixthSense attracted global attention. öSixthSenseö is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us, use natural gestures to interact with that information.
Pranav has invented Mouseless - an invisible computer mouse; intelligent sticky notes that can be searched, located and can send reminders and messages; a pen that can draw in 3D; and a public map that can act as Google of physical world many such interfaces that are normal ones we use in our daily life.

We normally use our five natural senses to perceive information about it; that information helps us make decisions and chose the right actions to take. But arguably, the most useful information that can help us, make the right decision is not naturally perceivable with our five senses, namely the data, information and knowledge that mankind has accumulated about everything and which is increasingly all available online. ‘SixthSense’ frees information from its confines by seamlessly integrating it with reality, and thus making the entire world your computer. The SixthSense system also augments physical objects, the user is interacting with by projecting more information about these objects projected on them. For example, a newspaper can show live video news or dynamic information can be provided on a regular piece of paper. The gesture of drawing a circle on the users, wrist projects an analog watch. When the innovation of sixthsense is transformed into a user friendly device coupled with Web 3.0 then I am confident, will our interaction with the computer and the World Wide Web will be seamless. One would interact with the Cyber world just the same way you and I interact with each other, effortlessly traverse between the real world and the cyber world, and in brief make the WWW an integral part of our life, an inseparable one. May I ask the WWW community, when will this happen?
Web and its contents
The Web has had a glorious existence over two decades and has revolutionized the way we work and live. It has been the catalyst for proliferating information across boundaries, enabling effective communication and 24/7 service availability, all leading to a digital, information based economy that we have today. Yet, its direct influence has reached only a small percentage of human population. By virtue of being hosted in a growing developing country, bubbling with innovation, this year’s theme aims to highlight the need for expanding the horizons of the Web to become all inclusive and pervasive, reaching out to every human life.

Hence it is essential that the Indian enterprises may adopt a mindset to spread their wings to further its reach to the unreached by a mix of global approach with a local cultural accent. Thus, they may become key agents of change in dispersing technology widely adopting the internet-2 and web 2.0 technologies. That would enrich all the sectors of the economy thereby promoting economic progress in the developing world. The ordinary citizen in a rural area by proper communication and appropriate tools may have to be convinced that the investment and time on World Wide Web is indeed useful for ultimately increasing his/her per-capita income. They must feel that the value added service is worth extending their native knowledge, increasing their productivity, opening new horizons for themselves and their children.

Maybe the next evolutionary stage of the Web will provide significant opportunities. Intelligent applications, cloud computing, open technologies and advanced data mining will give operators, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and media players the chance to use their core skills and assets to shape the Web 3.0 landscape. One important aspect is how rural business processing outlets can be enabled to work on these. Also world wide surveys may be useful to extend the contents in the world wide hub and power of search engines to serve the different range of users to bring in augmented and inclusive growth of this technology.

Some of the concerns of common citizens in accessing the World Wide Web As a regular user of World Wide Web myself, I have been trying to gauge the different types of users from research personnel, teachers, students, parents, home makers, villagers, government and private officials. I feel, there is a need to bring in a factor benefit/time ratio for given application linked to cost of infrastructure. I have even heard some very knowledgeable technical experts remarking that World Wide Web will not give access to the most essential information for a keen researcher. Probably this has to do with the protective tendency of technology developers in advanced areas due to commercial or national intellectual property angles. Also a foolproof measure for authenticity certification is one area which needs to be attended to. Government agencies are worried by the hacking possibilities and virus menace.  Parents are worried about the contents damaging to the children at an impressionable age and the time they spend on games etc with an impact on their education. There are privacy worries and worries of social networking sites being put to undesirable angles. As we have seen earlier the rural folk need to be convinced that contents of World Wide Web are indeed useful to them.
I would like the organizers to bring out in about six months an authentic survey of the World Wide Web on the 600000 villages of India and the effective measures to double its impact in about three years. I would be happy to go through such a survey results. Let me now discuss the developments leading to the Web 3.0.

Internet and multi-dimension of the Web While one could take pride in the developments of the web, one fact remained that the WWW has some shortcomings when it came to “world is flat” paradigm. The biggest hindrance in making the web truly democratic is the language barrier. Originally the ligua franca of the web was mainly English. With the European countries and China and India coming in to be major players in ICT, the situation has started to change but much more needs to be done. Today the developed status of a country is directly determined by the amount of contents in the country’s native language available on the web. I would urge the community gathered here to take steps so that the contents on the web in your own native language steadily increase. I am sure, that beyond the access to contents in your own language, cross lingual access to other languages as well, will invite your serious attention since you all know, knowledge grows by sharing and impediments to sharing should be fit candidate for removal.
When one looks at the world wide web, and tries to list many things that happened in the last few years, it would make a fascinating journey of how www embraced many new clientele to its fold. First, a new generation of users started putting things on the web - the myspace generation. Then came, the Youtube which has more video contents uploaded and viewed than we ever thought. There was this great revolution called social networks spearheaded by Orkut and Facebook. Blogging and Wiki became other free forms of expression and user generated contents. The web became truly active with voice, video and pictures.

The new community generates information for its own consumption. The borderline between author and consumer became ever thinner. But this also brought in a large increase in the non formal information and placed ever increasing responsibility on the user or his community to authenticate the information. The Semantic Web had to find itself a new direction. This brought in the WEB 2.0. The year of 2006 heralded new terminologies such as "social media," "social networking," "user-generated content," the "live Web." And whole issue is about how an average user participates in the media and content generation world, which was dominated by main-stream media and the effect that this cultural phenomenon has made on the giants in media. The harnessing of collective intelligence that WEB 2.0 has started is likely to make the growth of knowledge faster and exponential and would lead to more efficient ways of knowledge discovery and knowledge building. This in effect, is more in the lines of the original idea of the web Disintermediation. No space for anything or any one between the originators of knowledge and consumers of knowledge – the entire society so open and transparent.

When WWW through WEB 2.0 started touching every common man, people woke up and so did the Librarians. Then the Library 2.0 was born.  Web 2.0 + library= library 2.0

It is  a rebirth of everything that we knew and the Library 2.0 started to bring the libraries back to the user and make the Library what the users want and how and when they want- just like web 2.0 environment. The impact of WEB 2.0 on every group of users is the same. What it means is: give the user what he or she wants without any intermediary.
The penetration of cell phones and the attendant mobility and the need to digest short videos of information on a small screen has also become the mandate of the WEB 2.0 – social network of ever alert mobile people, who are always on the move and need information in a jiffy and where they are and in whatever language they want.

A typical challenge: Suppose a farmer or a home maker in a village using his or her mobile phone, should be able to ask a question in the local language. This question would be translated into multitudes of other languages used for searching the knowledge base. It should cull out the right information instead of giving tonnes of irrelevant data for a certain type specific question or key words or combination of both in verbal form. The culled out information may be collated, the translate them back to the language in which the query was raised and human like voice output with the friendliness and affection of a teacher is transmitted to the phone all in a blink. Can the researchers think of building such a system or standard or tool using the emerging Web 3.0 technologies which is called Symantec Web, using that the information that can be interpreted by machines, so that machines can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.
If the researches of WWW from India and the world are able to achieve that and apply it for the benefit of Societal GRID, then it will certainly change the perception of Web and expand its reach. A new revolution will set in to make a difference to the life of the common man using the Web 3.0 technologies. Since, it has a direct impact on the lives of the 700 million people who are living in the rural areas and will benefit number of other developing countries using the mobile device as their Personal Knowledge Assistant instead them having to learn to use the computer to access the necessary right information in right time.
Any new technology related to internet and web, particularly the futuristic web 3.0, has to transform into mobile device to the personal knowledge assistant, which has to be integrated with mobile telephony, and computer.

I am confident the researchers of 20th International World Wide Web will take up this as a challenge and create a system framework, application framework and the protocol framework to integrate the multiple technologies at the user level, at the cloud level, at the application level, at the database level using Web 3.0 technologies.

The total land area of India is around 3.3 million square kilometers with 7000 kilometers of coastline. The entire area is spread into deserts, hilltops, mountains, seashores, islands, valleys and plains. Out of the billion plus population in the country 70% live in six hundred thousand villages. We are in the process of a societal transformation towards sustainable development for our growth. This we propose to realize in a time bound manner by promoting a knowledge society for empowering the entire nation. Electronic and knowledge connectivity is the key to realize this goal. Connecting a billion people gives multiple challenges. Now, I would like to discuss about the societal transformation through the establishment of Societal GRID connectivity model.
I would like to see the researchers assembled here for the 20th WWW conference to closely study this model of a Societal GRID and see, how the research in the WWW can bring a seamless connectivity to enrich the quality of life of the 700 million people living in the rural area with an intervention of the research benefits out of Web 2.0 Services to Web 3.0 Services.

I strongly feel any technology which is not accessible to the common man will not make any impact in the societal transformation. Hence let me now explain the benefits of societal GRID in relation to www.

Societal Grid: In the proposed model, the inter-connectivity among the three sectors of the economy is brought about by four grids called Societal Grid: namely, Knowledge Grid, Health Grid, e-Governance Grid and the Rural Grid. Each grid is a system of multiple portals. This system of grid will bring prosperity to 700 million people in the rural areas and 300 million plus people in the urban areas. First let me discuss about knowledge grid.
Knowledge Grid: The endeavor is indeed to build and transform an information society into a knowledge society. The knowledge society will be a society producing, marketing and using products and services that are rich in both explicit and tacit knowledge, thus creating value-added products for national and international consumption. In the knowledge economy, the objective of a society changes from fulfilling the basic needs of all-round development to empowerment. The education system instead of going by textbook teaching will be promoted by creative, interactive self-learning – formal and informal with focus on values, merit and quality. The workers instead of being skilled or semi-skilled will be knowledgeable, self- empowered and flexibly skilled. We have rich knowledge institutions but what we have to add is connectivity. This connectivity today is technologically possible but would need creation of high bandwidth reliable network infrastructure to the extent of minimum 10 Gigabits per second all through the country to provide uniform access of knowledge in different regions leading to the creation of Knowledge GRID. India has established the "National Knowledge Network" by connecting 5000 Higher Educational and Research Institutions across the country which is now progressing. Now, I would like to discuss on establishing the next network in the system of GRIDs across the country, namely Health Grid.

Health Grid: The mission of telemedicine with healthcare Grid is gaining momentum and it will spread to all the equipped Primary Health Centers in the country, medical colleges and research institutions. Connectivity between 60 super-specialty hospitals with 322 remotely located Healthcare Centers has been established through Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) telemedicine grid. This will enable unique case studies and experiences to be exchanged between the super specialists through this health grid. It will also be possible to conduct Conferences of specialist doctors from multi centers to discuss the critical disease patterns and provide treatment. Now I would like to take up e-Governance Grid.

E-Governance Grid: Good governance is being recognized as an important goal by many countries across the world. They have taken up specific initiatives for open and transparent governance. Freedom of information is being redefined and supported by detailed guidelines. The internet revolution has proved to be a powerful tool for good governance initiatives. An important dimension of the internet potential is the possibility of providing services any time anywhere. Along with this there is a conscious effort to put the citizen as the centre of focus of the governance. Citizens are being perceived as customers and clients. E-governance has to be citizen friendly. Delivery of services to citizens is considered as a primary function of the government. Particularly in a democratic nation of a billion people like India, e-Governance should enable seamless access to information and seamless flow of information across the state and central government in the federal setup crossing the inter-departmental barriers. We have a National e-Governance Plan with twenty five-mission mode projects.
Also, State Wide Area Network has been established with the Data centers in each state HQ and Centre. G2G Services connecting the Central, State government to the District level leading to Village level administration with paperless office system is indeed a challenging mission. Computerization of over nearly 15,000 district and subordinate courts are required to be completed. The ICT industry in India has to provide solutions for all these tasks within the next five years.

Now let me discuss the significance of the sustainable development through establishing Rural Grid.

Rural Grid: India with six hundred thousand villages and seven hundred million people living in the rural areas needs a unique rural development model called PURA. PURA envisages provision of three connectivities namely physical connectivity, electronic connectivity and knowledge connectivity leading to economic connectivity. For providing the knowledge connectivity to the PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) complexes, Village Knowledge Centers will act as frontline delivery system. The Village Knowledge Centre should provide the essential data required for the targeted population such as farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, traders, businessmen, entrepreneurs, unemployed youth and the students. We are planning to establish 7000 PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) Clusters across the nation for providing sustainable Rural development. Establishment of 100,000 Common Service Centers as delivery mechanisms for PURA connectivity is another initiative taken by the government. Other major areas of activities for the software teams are establishment of village knowledge centers, education and healthcare facility for remote rural areas.
We have so far discussed all the four connectivities at the national level required for the societal transformation leading to empowerment. Certainly, ICT companies who specializes the Web development and research can become a partner in this national transformation process using ICT as a tool in a changed Internet 2 and web 2.0 paradigms and also adopt the early benefits of Web 3.0.

How to bring the transformation in the conventional setup for entering into the knowledge society? That is a big challenge. We have to bring change in thinking and doing so. We need creative leaders in all the domains whether in the industry, academic institutions or government, which I have discussed in the beginning. I was thinking what I can give to the thought leaders of 20th International World Wide Web Conference.

Friends in conclusion, I would like to suggest the following missions for the WWW community:

1. The world community will look for, how a mobile device can provide integrated
solutions of 3G or 4G applications in its mother tongue. That means, a fisherman in the sea, will be in a position to get an advance information about the sea wave condition, and locations of abundant school of fish. For a farmer, prices of agriculture produce at various markets in the nation and also the demand. Sensors incorporated mobile device holder, his or her family in a position will be in a position to transmit the data on patient and get the doctor and consultancy advice.
2. Even though the service may be available in the limited way, the internet and web 2.0 and 3.0 combination may enhance the services in native languages.
3. I explained the four grids as a part of societal grids. The societal grid has to work in the medium of internet 2.0 + web 2.0 and future 3.0.
4. All money transaction and micro payments done through mobile phones has to be highly secured, and mobile device must become personal authentication device also.
5. The less empowered you are, you need more bandwidth. 4G offers large amount of bandwidth, societal application particularly involve in farmer and villagers who are less empowered, we need more bandwidth. This is an opportunity to link up demand for bandwidth coming from villagers and the supply coming from 3G and 4G technologists. The web medium has to transform to meet such challenges. The future of the web is going to shift from connecting the corporate to the connecting the individual in the rural societies.
6. Over  time, the Web will offer access without any barriers of language, caste, and creed or geographical barriers.

My best wishes to the participants of 20th International World Wide Web Conference or all the success in their great mission of Research and Development in enriching the world wide web technologies.

For all the graphics  see  March 30 2011