strapped health care sector, where tough tradeoffs must be made, should clinics buy Pentiums or penicillin? Still other projections point to deleterious impacts the Internet is having, and will continue to have, on developing countries. Some see the Internet as a route by which Western values compete and come to substitute for indigenous ones, and they fear the consequences of increased communications ability and access to information coming at the cost of face-to-face, personal interactions. Most people agree that those individuals and countries not connected to the Internet will become isolated and backward.
The different scenarios and arguments, the positive and the negative, lead to many questions. Whatever the argument or scenario, the importance of being able to identify, analyze, and quantify the impacts of the Internet on the development of a country is critical to policy design and implementation. Are there enough data to warrant investment in the Internet as distinct from the more basic day-to-day needs of rural or urban people? We need to better understand the kinds of impacts new information technologies are having on our own country and others.
The technology and development issues will continue to interest analysts and policymakers for years to come. The findings are likely to be that the Internet has many of the impacts suggested above and many more unintended and unanticipated ones. The important point is that the impacts can be better understood and, to be understood better, an analytical framework for measuring them will be useful.
This report begins to provide such an analytical framework. The framework contains indicators that can be used by development agencies, national policymakers, individual users, potential investors, and other interested parties to help assess the impacts of the Internet on various aspects of a country's or a region's development. The indicators are also intended to provide continuity for researchers who are further analyzing and quantifying impacts of the Internet. Which of the indicators are used will depend on who is conducting the analysis and for whose benefit it is being conducted. The framework can be used to shape policies and behaviors