An analysis of Internet Policy trends over the last six months and their implications for technology policy

(Note – This is a part of a twin blogs which should be read together – the other post is From Landsgemeinde to Policy 3.0 – Paper review – The Futurium—a Foresight Platform for Evidence-Based and Participatory Policymaking)

Over the last few years, I have been working to understand Digital tech policy conversations on the Web. The analysis has been presented online and in meetings at the European Internet Foundation and the Policy bloggers network

This has been an evolving and an ongoing exercise.

‘Crawling the Internet” for Long Tail conversations around Policy is hard .. In this post I analyse Internet Policy trends based on data gathered over the last six months. In a related post, I also review a paper on the future of Policy making and why this matters

Based on the data of Internet policy conversations over the last few months, it would appear that Bitcoin and Google Glass are the most disruptive trends

However, this observation in itself shows the limits of analysing Internet conversations for Policy discussions

Here are some initial observations

a)      Cool, sexy tech innovations get a lot of traction on the Internet. Often, these appeal to a niche, tech savvy audience (Bitcoin and Google Glass being good examples of this)

b)      The Long Tail conversation get drowned out (although the data reveals some surprises as we see below)

c)       The definition of what constitutes tech policy is unclear. For the purposes of this discussion, I consider the following categories for Tech policy  Open-data, Telecoms and Broadband, Internet freedom, Human rights, Cloud computing, future Skills and jobs, Media and content, IPR, Evolution of Education, Open Government, Green IT, Internet of Things, Privacy, Security, Internet access and  net neutrality

d)      My overall goal is to contribute to the European Internet Foundation’s 2035 report, ESPAS and futurim through my work at the Policy bloggers network. This also influences the above categories

e)      The overall aim is to indentify Long Tail conversations on the Web around technology policy

f)       The analysis largely ignores the NSA issue although it impacts many areas (like Cloud Computing) since that has been widely covered everywhere and is not Long Tail

g)      The data was acquired by looking at major tech stories in publications like Techcrunch, Gigaom etc and analysing number of social media references(mentions) mainly on G+, feedly, facebook etc . The data was then classified into segments (More than 5000 references, 5000 – 1000 references, 500 – 100 references and 100 – 50 references). It was then categorised into a main category and a sub category. Companies referred to frequently were identified

h)      The process introduces some subjective bias (for example the selection of news sources, categorization etc)

i)        The objective was not to find absolute references but rather to find out relative references and  underlying trends

j)        There are tools to do this .. but they tend to be focussed for advertising (and not policy) ex  Radian6



Relative scale of references / mentions is as below

















Companies which appear in the listings

The following companies appear in the data frequently

Google, Nokia, facebook, Huawei, SAP, Sony, Alcatel one, Amazon, Apple, Arduino, Cognizant, Electronic arts, firefox os, HTC first, LG, Microsoft, Ouya, Rovio, Samsung, SAP(HANA), Sony experia , spotify, Ubisoft, Yahoo, Zynga


Breakdown ..


Stories that get a large number of mentions include Google Glass, Internet Sales Tax Proposal, Quantum computing, Syria (Internet access)



Mentions of 1000 to 5000 are interesting and show a wide range of policy issues (Cable regulation, Bit torrent, YouTube paid models)  and Disruptive technology (Leica cameras)

Mobile phones appear prominently even if not in best light. Nokia appears often because of its popularity in emerging markets


  • Cray supercomputer ($500,000)
  • Senate passes e-commerce bill; heads to House next
  • Eric Schmidt on an internet ‘delete’ button: ‘There is a time when erasure is a right thing’
  • ‘Kickstarter for black community’ aims to close African-American startup gap
  • Google reportedly launching paid YouTube subscriptions this week
  • How Leica Camera Is Reinventing The Medium-Format Market On Its Own Terms
  • BitTorrent goes legit with new ‘gated’ file format
  • John McCain Wants To Blow Up The Cable Industry As We Currently Know It
  • Adobe is killing Creative Suite; here’s why
  • Ouya raises $15M from Kleiner Perkins and Mayfield and delays launch
  • HTC’s Facebook Phone Is Clearly A flop
  • Entrepreneurship According To Drucker: Your 12 Keys To Success
  • Brazil’s groundbreaking Internet Civil Rights Bill needs support!



Shows some regional stories(ex Micromax)

  •  India launches monitoring system to track all calls, texts, and online activity
  • Micromax A120 Canvas HD Pro to come with 5.5-inch Full HD display


We see some stories like Internet Governance

Huwaei appears because its CEO speaks to media for the first time

  •  WTF? WTPF! The continuing battle over Internet governance principles
  • Can Tech Start-Ups Save Detroit? App Business UpTo is a Start
  • Online Education Disruptors
  • Huawei’s CEO Ren Zhengfei Speaks To Media For First Time


The full set is as attached An analysis of Internet Policy trends – OpenGardens blog

What’s missing?

The above analysis has limitations ..

It speaks of “What the Internet is talking about”

That conversation is dominated by some ‘cool’ topics but in itself .. It’s not enough for Policy makers

But we also need to understand the Long tail conversation in some detail

Even in the preliminary analysis .. We see some surprising trends

I will explore this subject more over time especially the idea of decentralised community