Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation has launched the Web Index, an online tool designed to measure the internet's economic, political, and social impact across the world. The site also assesses the quality of network infrastructure, and combines this with other indicators to rank each country's "state of the web."
The Web Index compiles country-level data pertaining to three general spheres: web usage, readiness, and human impact. Usage is measured by the percentage of web users within a given country, as well as the content available to them. Web readiness is determined according to a country's communications infrastructure, regulatory climate, and censorship policies. Human impact, meanwhile, is gauged according to a variety of economic, political, and social indicators, including the penetration of social networks and business web usage.
"a powerful tool that will empower individuals, government and organizations to improve their societies"
Indicators are graphically displayed on a global map, where users can easily see where each country ranks in a given area. Sweden tops the organization's overall rankings, followed, in order, by the US and the UK. The rankings also expose rather stark, if unsurprising discrepancies across developed and developing countries. Six European nations are in the Index's top ten list, whereas its bottom ten includes seven African countries. For now, the Web Index covers 61 developed and developing nations across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, though it will eventually expand to include more than 100.
The idea, according to Berners-Lee, is to combine quantitative measures with social and political indicators to paint a more complete picture of the web's impact on humanity. "By shining a light on the barriers to web for everyone, the index is a powerful tool that will empower individuals, government and organizations to improve their societies," Berners-Lee said at an event in London Wednesday. "The web is a global conversation. Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the web."