“The more Bureaucracy in the Sector, the Worse the Content”

What e-content means in Croatia:
A: The meaning of e-content in Croatia is not equally represented throughout various aspects of the society. It is difficult to pinpoint the actual reasons for this, but its source can certainly be traced back to the political and social leadership that fails to recognize advantages of new technologies, and to adopt new global rules. Maybe it could be roughly defined as the difference or the conflict between networking and barriers.

What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?

If compared to a human being, e-content in Croatia would, on average, be a thirteen-year-old late bloomer, and still developing. Exceptions exist, of course, and on both ends of the scale too, but not to seriously influence the evaluation. Each aspect of the society approaches production of the content differently.

Which e-content area is best developed in your country?

The general rule is: the more bureaucracy in the sector, the worse the content. These two things may not seem to be connected, but in reality this is how it functions. The worst quality content is found in the e-government sector, and taking into account overall state of affairs, no dramatic change is to be expected soon. One sector which recognized the importance of e-content very early is culture. The majority of projects in this sector have good quality e-content. E-science and e-learning are not lagging far behind, but there is one major obstacle: inadequate design often devaluates the content.

Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?
Corporations aggressively produce the largest quantity of content, though its quality and meaning are often questionable. Their communication is one-way only, so the content often loses its usability.

So, even though the private sector is in the forefront of e-content production and its quantity is significant, its quality remains an issue!

Please describe the progress of e-content development in your country.

Progress in development of e-content can be represented by an upturned curve, partially due to a steady increase in the number of Internet users setting new demands and new standards for content producers. However, due to an underdeveloped ISP sector, it is almost impossible to carry out really relevant assessment and monitoring.

Please list the major initiatives which have influenced and spurred the development of e-content in your country.

At the moment of writing, there is no initiative in Croatia whose goal is a systematic development of e-content. There is no doubt that there exist many projects aiming in this direction, however, the lack of support (financial and otherwise) by both the local authorities and international organizations contributes to the gloom reigning in the e-content domain.

What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?

The major bottleneck for a healthy development of e-content in Croatia is a lack of healthy policy-making initiatives. In 2001, the Croatian government issued a document called ‘Croatia in 21st century’ which was intended to set a framework for development. However, it did not take root and, hence, produced very meagre results. The Government also established the Office for Internetization which, in four years, hardly had any public activities at all. International donors traditionally fail to recognize IT projects as having strategic importance, making the current environment even less conducive for any e-content related initiative. One should also take into account the existing monopoly of the Croatian Telecom that is stifling a healthy development of ISP business, and keeping one of the crucial segments of Internet infrastructure underdeveloped. What makes the entire picture even worse is the lack of readiness of the educational sector to respond to the challenge of new technologies and to provide the necessary support to bring the younger generation closer to new technologies.

In developed countries ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily left to the initiatives of individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in less developed countries, the development of e-content is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. Please give a detailed analysis of the situation in your country.

Let’s imagine that we wish to start an ICT project in Croatia. In addition to human resources it will require a certain infrastructure.

Let’s assume that, due to envisioned heavy traffic and the need for easier production and maintenance, the project requires a stand alone server. If you wish to host a server on a 10Mbit link you need to pay 22,700 Euros per month to Croatian Telecom (HT)! There is no other line provider in the country.

I must say that there are already forces in the market trying to overthrow HT’s monopoly by switching to wireless technology and offering Internet access at somewhat more acceptable prices.

This situation is reflected in the state of content development. It is certain that market liberalization is what is needed for conditions to arise to facilitate initiatives whose primary product will be high-quality content.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe it in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

Some indications point towards ICT scenario in Croatia. A university-created project has been nominated as the best practice example in e-government category for this year’s WSA. The nominee in e-science has been a project lead by an NGO. The conclusions to be drawn can only be that one should differentiate between development of the society and the development of the state. The increase in the number of Internet users to almost 1 000 000 and record sales of PCs in the last year show that the society is truly e-ready for ICT. On the other hand, the state (understood here as the government institutions) has no clear development concept or strategy, and each institution carries on either with its own micro-strategy or without it.

There is no co-ordination between them and in such circumstances there are arbitrary developments and it is very difficult to make any estimations or evaluations.

How do you see the future of e-content development in your country?

With the given circumstances it is to be expected that e-content in Croatia will continue its development as thus far – arbitrary and unsystematic. The change in this segment will have to start in people’s minds, particularly in the minds of social and political leaders. Once e-content becomes a priority at the society level, its development will no longer be questionable. Hopefully, this will not take generations.

As an expert in your country, what would be the five most important pillars of e-content development?

» The establishment of a healthy ISP market as a basic requirement for any serious activity in the area of e-technology.
» Support through social systems and mechanisms, particularly through the educational sector.
» Policy making initiatives resulting in the inclusion of Internet technologies and related functions in the national classification of industries, thus rendering legitimacy and commercial momentum to the sector.
» Development and strengthening of civil society’s role as a motivator and corrective to existing initiatives.
» Networking and information exchange on the regional and global level are essential. This obviously remains the task of the generation defined by the establishment as last ten years ‘brain-drain’.

Please explain which is the most preferred medium for e-content development: Print, TV, the Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless or a combination of some of these?

None of the media takes precedence over the others: e-content is developed equally by all of them.

In 2002, there were 14,790 domains registered with the .hr extension. However, no data exists about the number of Croatian sites registered with .com, .org, .net. and other domains.

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