Iceland tops the latest Broadband user league, blasting past South Korea, by recording 26.7 broadband users per 100 to South Korea’s 25.4 users, according to the latest report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The remainder of the top ten are, in order: Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Japan and the United States.
A research grant of £0.5 million has been awarded to the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield Hallam to determine how new technology affects the size and make up of social relationships. The cash will be invested in an emerging field of science known as computer mediated communication. The project is based on the theories of evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar from the University of Liverpool, who says human beings naturally congregate into groups of predetermined size, and will investigate how mobile phones and the internet affect the size and make-up of contemporary social relationships.
Dunbar argues that humans are hard-wired to have about 150 people in a community of friends and that the natural order of human groups is the product of our evolutionary history. He said says innovations such as mobile phones, newsgroups, iPods and blogs are helping to establish world wide communities. However, it is not clear how – or even whether – these technologies are changing the size and nature of our natural social groupings.
Leading the project is Professor Alistair Sutcliffe from the School of Informatics at The University of Manchester. “We want to look at how technology can form the glue for economic and social communities around the globe,” he says. “Our aim is to create theories which will shape public policy, use the Internet more effectively and influence the way the next generation of computer technologies are designed.”