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From Silicon Valley to the Indus Valley: Facebook’s Approach to Understanding Socio-Cultural Barriers to Internet Adoption in the Developing World

About the Talk

October 17, 2014 9:00 AM

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Silicon Valley and the Tech Industry have a great deal of enthusiasm for making affordable Internet available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected. Companies pore over industry reports about connectivity and spend considerable money, time, and talent exploring new technologies, such as blimps, drones and satellites, that would help meet this goal. But enthusiasm, statistics, and new technology fail to comprehensively capture the reality of Internet use in the developing world. Silicon Valley knows comparatively little about this community of users who are accessing the Internet for the first time. We do not yet fully understand who they are, how they discover and access the Internet, and how the Internet will fit into their lives.

Facebook’s commitment to connecting the developing world includes a desire to understand distinctive new “paths” to Internet adoption and the barriers to entry beyond price and technology. In this Keynote talk, Curtiss Cobb will discuss how Facebook explores these issues around the globe even when “we don’t know what we don’t know.” Facebook uses a multi-disciplinary and multi-method approach, incorporating insights from ethnography, surveys, observational research, and field experiments. Results provide meaningful insights for stakeholders while avoiding the pro-innovation bias or the individual-blame bias that often trouble other technology adoption studies.

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