The manner in which the Internet is being shaped today is an important determinant of the directions of social change. It is no longer a simple technical platform about which scientists and technical experts are best placed to take all the important decisions. The question then becomes important: who decides the direction in which the Internet is evolving? A common response is that the Internet is a dynamic platform which responds to user needs. User determination of the trajectory of the Internet's evolution is today largely a myth, though some remarkable oases of alternative practices amongst committed techies or perhaps even involving some ordinary 'power users' do exist. To the extent the user has a role, it is in his capacity as a consumer, which capacity itself is very differentially distributed between the affluent and the marginalsied groups. Largely, it is the corporatist and statist powers that play an overwhelming driving role in shaping the Internet. Other than in very authoritarian countries, it is the global corporate power, often with strong support from governments, especially those of the North, that is the major determinant of the directions that the Internet is taking. The Internet being a major force in our shifting social configurations, it should not be difficult to see what this means for our future, especially for people and communities that are already marginalised.
It is important to confront both, the global corporatist stranglehold on the Internet, which is increasingly curtailing most of its egalitarian potential, and the statist efforts at resisting the tendency of the Internet to challange existing power heirarchies and controls. Towards these ends, IT for Change (ITfC) has been working both at the global and national levels. Our work seeks better participation and control of ordinary people and communities over shaping of the Internet as a key determinant of our future social structures.