DDI formulates innovations to enhance social, environmental, cultural, and human impacts of the internet as it spreads towards remote regions of the planet. Our focus is called Meaningful Broadband.
Founded in 1999 by Prof Craig Warren Smith, a former Harvard (Kennedy School) professor of science and technology policy, dozens of individuals and institutions have joined in to support this vision. As our geographic focus shifted from Boston to Singapore and then to Bangkok, our secretariat roster was increasingly filled with directors, research associates, advisors and managers from emergent-market nations.
Our advisors have local expertise in our areas of deployment but they also include a few recognized Thought Leaders, who are charting the future of the internet.
Our focus on “interaction design” is based at the University of Washington Human Interface Technology Laboratory in Seattle. Digital Divide-Asia is at Chulalongkorn University’s Center for Ethics in Science and Technology in Thailand. In Indonesia, operating as Indonesia Group Against Digital Divide, we are at The Habibie Center, reinforced by our ties with Institute of Technology-Bandung.
Professor Craig Smith (for full bio, go here) holds concurrent academic positions in US and Asia, most recently Visiting Professor at Peking University’s Department of Information Management. Along with Doctor Ilham A. Habibie, Smith is Co-Chairman of Meaningful Broadband Indonesia, which since 2006 has advised the Republic of Indonesia on its test-market deployment of “meaningful broadband” to low-income citizens.
Along with Bill Gates, Sr., Smith is a co-founder of the international movement to close the Digital Divide. The key event that triggered that movement occurred in 1999 when they co-organized a conference called “Financial Solutions to the Digital Divide,” held at the World Trade Organization in Seattle. That event first introduced Silicon Valley CEOs to the topic and it also brought “digital divide” to the attention of leaders of the United Nations system, such as United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and leaders of UNESCO, et al. Soon afterwards, Professor Smith relocated from Seattle to New York to help establish the United Nations Task Force on Information Technology. Later, he was invited by Professor Jeff Sachs to become visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with a joint position at MIT Media Lab. In Cambridge, he created an alliance between technologists (at MIT) and public policy professors (at Harvard) to formulate the framework now presented as Meaningful Broadband as DigitalDivide.org.
As the focus of the Digital Divide movement shifted to Asia, Prof Smith was invited as a Harvard visiting professor to teach science and technology policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore. That role created a platform that led him to advise government ministers in India, Indonesia, China, and Thailand on the framework for closing Digital Divide. Located currently in Seattle, he oversees Digital Divide Institute’s test-market deployments in Asia.
Prof Smith is also a teacher of mindfulness, in both the United States and in Asia, an avocation that began in 1994 when he was a founding faculty member of Naropa University in Boulder Colorado. Combining his interest with meditation and technology he pioneered the concept of “spiritual computing,” in which technology design aligns with human development. He conducted a global lecture tour on the topic of spiritual computing in 2006, at Nokia (Helsinki), Google (Mountain View), Yahoo! (Sunnyvale), IBM-Almaden Lab (San Jose), and Microsoft Research (Seattle), (View his first lecture at Google on this theme.)