Chapter One of Overselling the Web? looks at some predictions regarding the impact of the Internet on development. George Gilder chose December 31st, 1999 most suitably to suggest the change might be millenarian:
With any technology that will change the world so radically as the Internet… religious wars are important and inescapable….The twentieth century has been an era when an atheistic belief in the ultimacy of matter and the triviality of man led to the horrors of Nazism, Communism, and an epoch of total war. Now sweeping through the global economy, the overthrow of matter will unleash an undertow of religious belief that will make the new millennium a time of awakening to the oceanic grandeur and goodness of the universe...
Thomas Friedman hasn't gone quite as far, but he, too, has been pretty optimistic:
The potential of the Internet as a force for development was the focus of a G-8 meeting as well as a UN Summit (in two parts). It has catalyzed aid programs and any number of "e-readiness assessments." All of this activity is based on what might be termed the "Okinawa Consensus":
The Internet and related technologies present a significant opportunity for developing countries to improve their growth prospects. Indeed, the Internet may be a ‘leapfrog’ technology –one that creates an opportunity for developing countries to catch up economically with the industrial world. The technology is a powerful tool to improve government service delivery, education, and income-earning opportunities even for the world’s poorest people. Given that, poor country governments (in partnership with the private sector and with the help of donors) need to dedicate significant resources to expanding the use of the Internet, especially in government and education and especially to reach the poor. There is also a role to promote Internet industries through technology parks, and Internet use through public access programs such as putting computers in libraries and building stand-alone Internet access points.
Overselling the Web? is about the policies suggested, the rationale behind them, and which ones might make sense.