Shayna (00:08): Hey, I'm Shayna,
And I'm Paige.
And this is BCC.
Where we copy you in.
On internet stories.
From around the world.
Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of BCC. And today for our hot topic segment, we have a special guest.
Yes, we do.
Shayna (00:33): Who is Julia Plume,
Julia is one of our teammates at the Internet Society Foundation, and we just wanted to invite her to this conversation around a hot topic that's been bubbling around the office, which is daylight savings time.
This just happened last week I think, was it last weekend?
Yes, early November.
Where in several parts of the world, the time changed and went back, fall back. Yes, went back one hour. And it got us thinking and talking because time is so important for the work that we do and scheduling and things around the world, but also for the internet.
How does the internet deal with daylight savings time? And I think that would be pretty important. So that's what we're talking about today.
And first, I guess I would just ask, do you guys know why we have daylight savings time?
What I read was that it was introduced in Germany in the First World War to save energy. That's what the internet said. Isn't it what you guys found too?
That is what I found as well, but actually it doesn't save energy because 80% of the world's population does not adhere to daylight savings time.
Yeah, it started in Germany to save energy, and I watched a YouTube video and it mentioned that in the UK, the reason it was kept was to boost productivity. So apparently if it's more light outside after work, people are more inclined to go places and buy things. Kids are more likely to play outside in the wintertime if it's not darker. So I guess it serves its purpose in that aspect.
I feel like as a kid here, I heard stories about it being connected to agriculture and farming, and that more daylight and adjusting times allow for more productivity on farms and things like that, which I was like, "Okay, maybe that makes sense."
But then I was like, "But we've got machines now, don't we? We are not really..." I don't know, I've never been really on a farm so I don't really know how that works.
I think there are probably a lot of reasons, but they're all ultimately connected to productivity and energy use.
But then the question becomes, how does the internet take that into account when times change and when they don't?Somehow on my calendars, so I have an Outlook calendar, I have a Gmail calendar, it automatically does it. But it keeps it in order with other places around the world. So how do you theorize how that's happening?
So there'll be little code blocks on every application or every piece of software or website or whatever that deals with time conversions and time changes. And there'll be these conditional statements that say if the time... If the thing happens, whatever the thing is happening in the application, if it happens at this time, then make it be this time and this time zone, or the other way around. Or a bunch of different things.
And they're all written with years and dates, there's this whole little box, so every single thing, every single thing that we look at in the internet, there's a time associated with it somewhere even if we don't see it as the users. Even in Flux, we record the exact time and date where someone's submitted their application, and it converts their local time that they're submitted into Eastern time. And we have code in Flux to do that.
So if you think about all of those little code blocks for every single little thing, and how... It's decent, it's a decent little piece of code for everything. How much energy is it using to store everything?
Julia, the internet is too big.
But are we saving energy in the end? [inaudible 00:04:35]
I don't know, but this is the thing. It's like, okay, but if the whole point of daylight savings time is to save energy but then you're having to use energy to account for that, it cancels it out.
I'm sure there are many other things that cancel it out too.
The argument doesn't really stand anymore. But then to Paige's point earlier about nothing being real, it's just time isn't real.
It is a social construct.
And then you think about all the businesses, all the organizations that have employees all over and do business all over, and they have that bit of code every single time for every single meeting. And then like you said, it just magically happens.
I click on the thing and the internet does the thing and it sends out, but there's energy that goes into that. And I'm not manually converting time, even though I did watch a YouTube video and I've learned to do it, I'm not manually converting time like that. So it takes up so much energy.
I guess this was thought of before the internet. So maybe we need to revisit it and think about conserving energy.
Interestingly I read that it used to be, up until 2007... So there've been several changes over the last century or whenever, when was it first introduced? First World War.
So changes to when daylight savings happens and the dates, and it used to be that Canada, US and Europe all changed on the same Sunday.
And then in 2007, this is the rumor I read, I don't know if it's real. But the US changed what they did. They extended daylight savings by a week so that little kids in Wyoming would have more daylight to trick or treat.
Oh, but I like that.
Okay, but then also though, so there must be... There is a standard time that is considered universal. So there's UTC, which is coordinated universal time. And so most systems are using that as a standard measurement of time.
And then all of us around the world who maybe have different time zones, that standard time is being converted into whatever local time we're in. So I think that undergirds the whole system probably of the internet in terms of time, that we're just using UTC to account for those things.
Because again, sometimes it changes locally and sometimes it doesn't, like Paige's example in Jamaica. If you don't do it... And even some other states, it's even state to state in the US, which I think is really bizarre, whether or not they do it. I think Arizona is one where they don't do it.
So it's just all over the place, but it's a really... I think it's really interesting to think about how sophisticated the internet has to be to account for all of that.
It's pretty crazy.
Yeah, and UTC came about in from again-
That I watched because of travel, so there was a meeting in the 1880s... And yeah, there's a meeting in the 1880s and they decided on a Greenwich line. So let's divide the earth in half for whatever purpose and let's make a line through it. And the place that won, I don't know how this worked, but was Greenwich in England.
So the line runs through this town called Greenwich which is why it's the Greenwich Meridian, and the other half of it on the back end, it's a circle. So on the back end of it, it's the international date line. And then they divided the earth into 24 different time zones, 24 different sections.
So how you would calculate it manually is if you're going to the right of the Greenwich you add an hour to Greenwich time. And if you're going to the left of Greenwich you add an hour... You subtract an hour from Greenwich time. And I just think that's crazy because the countries that existed in the 1800s do not exist anymore. And do we need to revisit time or are we just going to continue on?
Should we redraw the boundaries of time? Well, because they're not necessarily like national boundaries or state boundaries because those have changed over time. So then you have places that didn't exist that are now on different times. Well, and then also when you say they, who's they? Who's deciding that?
Whoever was in charge in the 1880s.
In charge of the world?
So the people in charge now they did it, but just because you mentioned national boundaries. I... Again, a YouTube video, Samoa and Tonga were on the Eastern end of the International Date Line. So we're on the back end of the globe if you're looking at it from the traditional front view. They were on the Eastern end. They skipped a day to be on the Western end to be in the same time zone with trading partners New Zealand and Australia. They literally-
Good for them.
They skipped a day.
[inaudible 00:09:36] Good for them.
[inaudible 00:09:36] said-
Because time doesn't exist, Paige.
Can you imagine being born on that day? What happened? Were you born? [inaudible 00:09:45]
What day was it? Do we know what the missing day is?
I actually don't know what the missing day is.
Shayna (09:50): We're going to find out-
But we will link it below.
Yeah, okay, great.
[inaudible 00:09:55] birthday one time, the next year theoretically would have... Like they don't skip that day every year, that doesn't make any sense.
No, they just skipped it the one times. With you born on that day, I guess you're just one less year old. Again, time is a social construct.
Well, what about people who are born in leap years and leap days. And isn't that end of February where they add a extra day sometimes?
Paige (10:16): Yes, they do add an X-
Again, they. Who's they?
Again, we need to find who they are. And we need to find who they are, revisit daylight savings time, and possibly draw an entire map of the time zone again.
So work to be done.
I remember talking about or learning about that change with summer in Tonga when I was a kid, and the way that... At least the way that I internalized it, the way that I feel like we discussed it as children was that they did it on purpose so that they could be first in the day, they could see daylight first in that day or something.
I know. I know. These are important things.
Why countries change times.
Do you remember that as a kid, Julia, growing up in New Zealand? Do you remember when they did that?
I feel like I did, but I can't say for sure because I have no idea when it happened. And it could have been well before my time and I'm just making up a memory.
But you remember people talking about that, or as a kid talking about it.
Yeah, because daylight savings, when you're a kid it blows your mind, because you're like, "Why are we changing time?" An hour of a little kid's time is much more than one hour is to us. It's a bigger proportion of their life.
And it means more when you can stay up late or whatever. So yeah, I do remember that being a hot topic of conversation around the playground when I was a kid.
Well, and it still is.
Well, thank you so much. This is super fun. I don't know what the takeaway is here other than to say time doesn't exist and it's a social construct. So everybody just make sure you get outside for trick or treating on time. Enjoy that.
Hello, and thanks for listening. This is another episode of BCC copying you in on internet stories from around the world.
And today we will be having a conversation with Teddy Woodhouse and Ana Maria Rodriguez from the World Wide Web Foundation. The World Wide Web Foundation is also a grantee of the Internet Society Foundation, so I'm very excited to hear more about the work and have you guys listen in as well.
Teddy Woodhouse is the Alliance for Affordable Internet's senior research manager. He has helped author a number of publications relating to affordable, meaningful, and sustainable access to the internet, including several additions of the affordability report. A4AI's device pricing research and sustainability in connectivity.
Ana is the research analyst with A4AI and the Web Foundation, as part of her work she has conducted a number of quantitative analysis relating to internet affordability in low and middle income countries. Thank you both for joining me.
Yeah, thanks much for having us.
So I guess I'll just launch into the first question, which is what exact is your research aimed to do?
So our project, the costs of exclusion, is a bit of an experiment for us as an organization. So at our organization, A4AI and the Web Foundation, we have been working for quite a few years now on the digital gender gap, which is roughly described as the different digital experiences and access to technology that men and women have in several parts of the world.
And as a general trend, women have less access to these technologies and have more limited experiences as net statistical averages than men do.
So we recognize that this is a huge problem and we've been advocating for a lot of policy change in several parts of the world to see where we can close this gap and have a more equitable digital future for us all.
And so what this project does is it's looking at what are some ways to understand the economic consequences that aren't just for the people who are held offline, but for societies at large, in terms of what is lost. In terms of the potential economic revenues, the lost information, the lost knowledge sharing that happens as a result of people being left offline.
What the ultimate objective here is that we hope to see policy change and new allies activated who may not be the typical audience who are sensitized to gender as a policy issue, but will see the economic consequences that are affecting their country. But because of the digital gender gap and therefore become activated to help us be allies, fight for policy change, and help close the digital gender gap.
Thank you for that. I read your report, it's amazing. And I guess the question I had was around the methodology that was used, because I think a lots of the times when you see folks talking about gender, it's normally qualitative. Where it's centered around human rights and all of these, I don't think I've seen something trying to quantify the exclusion of girls and women from the internet. So can you talk a bit about the methodology used?
So the methodology, yeah, you're right. Most of the time the gender analysis and research is qualitative, mainly because it's hard to find data, quantitative data on gender. But we wanted to really quantify that cost of excluding women from the internet so we really needed a quantitative approach.
And so we found a way to really measure that in terms of quantitative aspects. So the impact of keeping women offline to a [inaudible 00:16:26] of different countries, mainly low income countries.
So we really took that approach because that's what we wanted to. And so we found a bit of a challenge finding the data, and it was not easy, but we found the best way to do it. And we found a confident and robust way of quantifying that cost. And that's what we did, using a number of statistical methods and combining some of them to really find that number and that quantitative figure that gave us the idea of how much does it cost to keep women offline.
Oh yeah, and I really... As someone who is more interested in qualitative data because I like to tell stories, I think quantitative data is really important when it comes to policy making. Because we know that policy makers like to see a figure amount.
So saying we've been appealing the human rights end for a very, very long time when it comes to women and girls, so I think doing it quantitatively where you can say, "This is the dollar amount it's costing your country," is really helpful when it comes to appealing to policy.
And as it relates to your findings, I'll let you speak more about them. But the one I wanted to share with our listeners was that countries have missed out on a trillion US dollars in GDP as a result of excluding women and girls from the digital world.
And in 2020 the lost GDP was 126 billion US dollars. And that's just really crazy to me. And that's one of many conclusions your report outlines. Would you mind just commenting on that one and mentioning the others?
Sure, yeah. So I guess we can say that is the cumulative effect for these countries. And we tried to get a... Estimate a picture of what the size of this problem is. Because that's a huge part of it is, when you can't measure it and when you lack data, it becomes quite difficult to know how stubborn it can be to fix or how problematic it can be and how difficult it can be. And the limitations of what's lost because we aren't solving this problem.
And so in addition to [inaudible 00:18:49] that top line figure around GDP and the overall economic activity loss, one of the other numbers that we've been using, particularly with governments as we've started some of the policy discussions, is around lost tax revenue.
So translating that number into tax to GDP numbers roughly, it's 24.7 billion as of last year in lost economic... In lost tax revenue.
And so for governments, that's a huge figure in terms of what they could be doing to buy new jobs for the COVID-19 pandemic or building schools, hospitals, other forms of infrastructure.
And so we really want to make it clear that this shouldn't be considered a problem that only affects a small part of the world, that it should only be a burden held by those who are left offline. It's actually there's so much that is lost by all of us in common because of it, that we should be concerned about this and taking action on it in common as well.
So fingers crossed this strategy works out and we do see some stuff, policy change in the coming years as well.
Thank you for that. Speaking of policy, the report outlined the React framework. Can you talk a bit more about what that is?
So yeah, so the React framework, it was actually a precursor to this report. So funnily enough it was one of those poetic moments with the report launched that our report on the costs of exclusion launched I think it was on an anniversary. I can't remember exactly how many years after.
But on the anniversary of this release of the [inaudible 00:20:27] declaration, which came out of the Africa Summit for Women and Girls in Technology, where the activists and thinkers and feminists there at that event put together this framework React, short for rights, education, access, content, and targets, as five thematic pillars to really conceptualize for policy makers ways to convert ideas and problematic areas into potential policy solutions.
And we saw that still being a problem today in terms of underwhelming policies in all of these five areas. And so we thought it was still relevant to conceptualize this problem of the digital gender gap and the solutions that we hope come out of it through this framework.
So examples could be for rights, for example, it can be stronger consumer protection laws so that people have more confidence in e-commerce. For access, it's about breaking gender norms that say women and girls shouldn't be using technology, and really battling that stigma that exists in many parts of the world. And even things too, the really practical stuff of targets of we want to see more governments that are setting clear targets around gender equitable access to the internet in the next few years.
And so it's about having a time limit of in the next five years we want to see 20% or 30% or 40% more people connected to the internet. And as part of that, we want to see the digital gender gap narrowing by a specific percentage as well.
So it's ideas of that, of bringing those together as a comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing this problem is what we hope policy makers will do as a result.
I do, I share your hope as well. I think that a lot of times policy makers talk about wanting to make evidence-based policy. And this is a perfect time to do that. The evidence is here, this report exists, and this is a perfect time to take this and consult with the various stakeholders involved and make good policy that'll help connect women and girls and everyone hopefully to the internet.
Thank you both for chatting with me. I really, really appreciate you taking time out to have this conversation.
Yeah, thank you so much.
You would've just heard my interview with Ana and Teddy from the World Wide Web Foundation, a grantee of the Internet Society Foundation, and we had a chat about the digital gender gap.
So essentially what we chatted about was the cost of exclusion, the actual dollar amount that it cost to exclude women and girls from the internet. And that is about 1 trillion US dollars in GDP for the entire globe.
And one other figure that I thought was really interesting was that men are 21% more likely to be online on the internet than women are globally. And that has risen to 52% in least developed countries.
Wanted to get you guys' reaction on that.
Okay, so my first reaction to that report and also to listening to that interview is that when you start talking about dollar amounts with Bs and Ts in front of the names, that's a lot of money. We're not talking about just like a little bit of something, we're talking about billions upon billions of dollars that really could be helping to provide so much stuff for so many people around the world.
And to have it quantified that way is just really shocking and jaw dropping. It's just a stark reminder of how systems and institutions around the world just remain really, really, really entrenched in sexist and gender beliefs that are just really harmful.
And it's so sad to me because women are innovating constantly, women have to be innovators, women have to be entrepreneurial, we just have to for our survival. So it just is really so crazy to me to see those numbers like that and to have that be a figure. It's nuts really.
Yeah, when I first saw it I was like, "Wait, no that can't..." You're almost in disbelief. And then you think about the stereotypes that exist in the tech industry and it's of being a tech bro. Silicon Valley or tech bro.
So of course that along with technology and a lots of the things are on the internet is exported globally, and the unfortunate consequences that women are excluded from that.
And the one thing I did chat with them about was just the policy implications that this might have. Because I think that for a long time people have been saying, it's bad to not have women on the internet. Appealing to morals and this... The kind of humanitarian appeal that you normally see around these issues. And they decided to go the complete opposite route and quantify, like here's a dollar amount, here's a number for the policy folks out there or the leaders in charge. Instead of saying, "We're going to connect women because we're nice people," you can say, "This is the amount of money we're losing." Appealing to people who make policy in the language that they speak, which is dollar amount.
Yeah. Julia, do you have a thought?
Yeah, I was just going to... It reminded me of this book that I started reading. I've not finished it. It was recommended by B actually, it's called invisible woman.
Yes. Yes, I love that book.
Yeah, and just how the digital world is designed for men. And as long as that continues, then this difference, this loss, this cost I guess is going to perpetuate. But what do we do to change it? We're working at such a disadvantage as women already in the tech world, as you say, tech bros. So how do you change it? What do we do? What do we do as a foundation?
Well, I could say that internally, our team, which I think is a really special team, is made up primarily of women. And I think we get some criticism for that sometimes, but I think to be in the digital space and in the tech realm as a group of women, while it shouldn't be rare and it shouldn't be something that's not happening all the time, it is.
But I think also what's important is that it doesn't mean that women haven't been contributing. It just maybe means that they haven't been recognized for those contributions or they've had to work undercover to make those things happen.
So there are lot of women historically who did contribute and continue to contribute to the development and growth of the internet. Are they always recognized? Probably not. But I know just on the [inaudible 00:28:12] side there's some pretty phenomenal women who've been there a long time.
Shout out to Jane who's been doing some really awesome work for a long time in the space. And I know recognition for those efforts and contributions are few and far between sometimes, so it's hard out here.
For women, just a quick tidbit. I remember re-watching hidden figures, and I was reminded that the first computers were people and they were women, they were black women. Yeah, interesting tidbit there.
Yeah. And I know that World Wide Web and Alliance for Affordable Internet have been doing a lot of this work and really have been champions around this issue for a long time. And I think I was really excited when this project came through my desk about what they were trying to do, and was really excited about trying to support that.
And I know that the report is landing with quite a big thud, and I've seen in some of my networks and things and other podcasts that I listen to that people are talking about it. And so I really... I hope that it really does have an impact and I hope it encourages folks to really think about what those costs are. And also what the exclusion is, what does exclusion look like? Does it look like, I don't have access to the internet? Or does it look like I don't have a phone?
Does it look like, I don't have money to pay for a data bundle? More questions around what that exclusion actually is I think is also needed, and could be helpful to further the conversation and the cause.
Thanks so much Paige for that interview, and thanks for copying us in on that. Thank you to Julia for joining us today, special guests. Thank you so much. And thanks to everybody for listening. We will talk to you next time. BCC is supported by the Internet Society Foundation.