Last year, Aberystwyth University hosted the Aberystwyth Internet Jurisdiction Symposium. This was a 2 day symposium consisting of lectures and networking. In preparation for this event, a student essay competition was ran. The issue to be addressed in the essays was:
Are we doomed to accept a much more territorially segregated internet in which States or regions erect cyber-borders in an effort to uphold their peculiar cultural, political or legal values as well as protect national economic interests? In other words, to what extent is the future of the Internet emerging as one delineated by sub-global political and legal borders and what are the alternatives?
I decided that I would write an essay during my lunch breaks at work (as I was on my Industrial Year Placement), and enter it. I’ll admit that the essay was not as well written as it could have been due to the lack of time dedicated to it, but it still came 2nd over all. My essay can be read here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fzm629efbh6ogqa/VicHarknessEssay.pdf?dl=0
Something interesting happened on my blog recently: it was linked to on a forum (http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/ac3-2-1-apm-2-5-throttle-pulsates-in-loiter?commentId=705844%3AComment%3A1967536). This led to the blog receiving 37 visitors in a single day. The metrics provided by WordPress allow me to view the geographic locations of visitors. I was quite surprised by what I saw:
The linking forum itself is an English language forum, and so I was quite surprised by which countries are visiting it (as estimated via those visiting my blog). It would certainly be interesting to see data on visiting demographics taken directly from the forum. However, the diversity seen here does go against points that I stated in my essay (namely that people tend not to have interest in websites from outside their culture). The most influencing article in my essay (Does the Great Firewall really isolate the Chinese? Integrating access blockage with cultural factors to explain web user behavior) only considers the 1000 most popular websites. Technical forums (such as for DIY drones) are most likely niche enough to not appear in this number. From the admittedly small data set I have, it seems as though people with a niche interest may form their own sub-cultures, using in this case English as a common language. This behavior may only be exhibited in the minority of people in a given nation. Due to the technical nature of groups such as these, these people may overlap with the people capable of using VPNs to avoid censorship. I have not done any background research in to this theory, nor do I intend to. I simply found it quite interesting how diverse the visitors of my blog (and the DIY drones forum) are in light of my previously written essay.