Looking at the UNESCO/WSIS Declaration of Principles for the internet, it becomes clear that the declaration rejects the bifurcation of, on the one, the information society as part of globalization on corporate terms and the subsequent increase in the digital divide and, on the other, knowledge societies that rely on affordable, free and open-source software and diversity in formats that enable global accessability regardless of the underlying technology.
Governments have been quick in picking up the information society and The Declaration claims that the governments of the first world are responsible for the ways in which the Internet will develop. The choice of software is a political choice. No matter how much you argue for measures to bridge the digital divide, no matter how much money you put into building new infrastructures, the fact remains that the choices made set the example.
Declaration ends on an affirmative and interesting note that points towards an as yet unrealized future as it says that
we are collectively entering a new era of enormous potential, that of the Information Society and expanded human communication. In this emerging society, information and knowledge can be produced, exchanged, shared and communicated through all the networks of the world. All individuals can soon, if we take the necessary actions, together build a new Information Society based on shared knowledge and founded on global solidarity and a better mutual understanding between peoples and nations. We trust that these measures will open the way to the future development of a true knowledge society.
At the UNESCO portal for the Information Society the subtitle consequently is: Monitoring the Development of the Information Society towards Knowledge Societies. The shift from the singular information society to plural knowledge societies is significant as it ties in with the UNESCO Declaration of Cultural Diversity - that cultural diversity is the common heritage of humanity. Furthermore, setting the standard, the UNESCO site includes a portal to free and open source software.
"Building the Information Society: a global challenge in the new Millennium." WSIS:Declaration of Principles, last accessed 09 May 2008, www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs/geneva/official/dop.html.
"UNESCO Observatory on the Information Society." UNESCO, last accessed 11 Sep 2008, portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=7277&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.