Indirect impacts may also depend on changes that occur in programs and institutions as a result of the technological opportunities made available by the Internet. Indirect impacts can range from increased cost effectiveness of a small nongovernmental organization (NGO) to restructuring of an economy as a result of changes in the structures of comparative advantage induced by the Internet.


It is unlikely that all impacts of the Internet are or will be positive. Using television as a comparable technological innovation, some studies have concluded that TV is responsible for making violence more acceptable in U.S. society, for increased emphasis on consumerism, and for reducing literacy by substituting television viewing for reading as a pastime for large numbers of people. There is also growing concern about criminal activities, dubbed “cybercrime” by some, on the Internet. Any complete analytical framework for the Internet must provide for both positive and negative impacts. Moreover, any single stakeholder, be it an individual Internet user, development agency, or policymaker, will likely see both positive and negative impacts from Internet use and will have to balance those impacts according to his or her individual needs and expectations.

In addition to positive and negative impacts, one can distinguish between intended and unintended impacts of introduction and use of the Internet. These can be either positive or negative and depend on the perspective of the analysis. For example, decreased international communications costs, and hence decreased costs of sending data to another country, may be the positive impact an NGO desires upon acquiring Internet access; but when that NGO outsources analytical work that was previously done inhouse and incountry to analysts in another country, it is an unintended and negative impact from the perspective of a development agency striving to increase local employment and Internet experience.

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