Croatia

Interview with Kresimir Lugaric

“E-Content in Croatia is in its adolescent phase, just about to become of age”

How would you define e-content in your country?

The e-content scene is changing literally on a daily basis. This is, on one hand, a consequence of the development of broadband connections, and on the other, the public availability of technology. This makes e-content a decisive factor of development in all social spheres. Without this, there can be no digital age. All social groups are becoming aware of this. Private business and entrepreneurs are well ahead of others, and so are government organizations. They are trying to respond to increasing demand for online services by starting numerous e-projects. Therefore, it is possible to say that there is a consensus in all sectors to set up e-content in such a way as to become a member of EU

“If we look at things literally, we could say that business/private sector is taking the lead in the area of e-content”

What’s the status of e-content in Croatia?

We could say that e-Content in Croatia is in its adolescent phase, just about to become of age. All the things that naturally happen along with coming of age are present – first loves, disappointments, coming against serious obstacles. This is how e-content behaves in this society. Significantly changed social environment is very helpful, and leaves an open door for development of high quality e-content.

Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in Croatia?

E-government has finally come out of hibernation. We expect this to create a domino effect on other sectors that collaborate with the government and are exposed to its direct influence. This is the good news. The bad news is that most institutions still do not pay enough attention to e-content. Large majority take it as yet another thing to be solved, without being aware that for clients this is often enough the first instance of contact by which first impressions are made – whether the institution be cultural, governmental, non-profit, commercial, scientific or educational. We may state that e-content is most visible with large organizations or companies that have separate budgets set aside for this. This does not necessarily mean that the content is of high quality or high usability. So, it is difficult to focus on any specific sector as being more developed or exemplary than the others.

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in Croatia is advanced in developing e-content?

If we look at things literally, we could say that business/private sector is taking the lead in the area of e-content. However, if we compare various projects, we may reach different results, and some sectors will have gone ahead of others. It is difficult to talk in terms of aggressive e-Content development. It would be meaningful to focus on personal websites and blogs, in view of the rapid advances made and enormity of content. However, evaluation of quality is a very subjective and difficult matter.

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in Croatia?

The process has finally reached an upward phase and, taking into account the development of ISP market, arrival of new players, as well as direction towards factual and legal end of monopoly in this sector, it is expected that it will continue in the same manner. All the mentioned processes should contribute to a steady rise in current trends in the course of the next few years.

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in Croatia?

– World Summit Award

– TTA

– Carnet Webfestival

– Projekti e-Hrvatske

– NSK

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in Croatia?

Development of broadband rapidly reduces existing bottlenecks. The number of DSL users should reach 100.000 by end of this year. With that, e-content will see better days. However, the prices of eased lines that are an absolute must for any serious initiatives are still incredibly high. This lack of feeling for market requirements shows that monopolistic tendencies are still present and have not been duly dealt with yet. We believe, though, that with the onset of new technologies, businesses unable to adjust to new circumstances shall die of natural causes. E-content will find ways to continue its development irrespective of those who try to slow it down.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in Croatia in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

In the basic telecommunications infrastructure, in mobile penetration and in the supply of ISDN and DSL services, Croatia has reached a level comparable to other countries where markets opened up since 2001.

There are nine ISPs in Croatia: CARNet, europroNET, Globalnet, HTnet, IskonInternet, POSLuH, VIPonline, VM Mreže, Vodatel. Surfing the Internet in Croatia costs between 1.50* and 36.00* HRK per hour (i.e. 0.20* and 4.80* € per hour), depending on the time in the day, the ISP and the user’s service package. *[prices without 22% VAT]

29% of households in Croatia have a connection to Internet. In 2003, Croatian citizens and businesses spent something over 92 million US dollars for Internet access. Dial-up technology was prevalent, i.e. it represented 98.5% of all Internet connections established in Croatia until end 2003.

In May 2004 around 33% of Croatian population older than 15 years were Internet users i.e. around 1,150,000 people older than 15 was using Internet at least once a month. This is 8% more Internet users than 2003.

The average Croatian Internet user is male (56%) aged between 25 and 34 (42%), highly educated (60%) and has an income over 6.000 HRK (73%). He is from Zagreb (34%), and accesses Internet from home (82%).

“There is a synthesis of mobile technology and Internet in creating their own space for new e-content”

Frequency of Internet access shows that 34% of users surf every day and further 35% surf several times a week – 70% users are regular Internet users totaling around 805,000 people.

What’s the future of e-content in Croatia?

With the arrival of new technologies, the positions of power in the market change As soon as it becomes generally available, infrastructure moves downward on the list of priorities. When e-projects are planned and implemented, large funds are set aside for e-content development. In this way e-content becomes so intertwined with social activities that it takes over a leading role becoming indispensable in daily life. We could compare it with electricity – you never think about it, but it is everywhere around you. For everything you touch requires it, and you only notice it once you don’t have it. The same will be with e-content in the future. It is only a matter of time when people in power will finally become aware of it.

Which is the most preferred medium for e-content production in Croatia?

Internet naturally lends itself to e-content. However, of late, there is a synthesis of mobile technology and Internet in creating their own space for new e-content. Classic media such as radio or television do not reach far enough into the future, and are unaware that their synthesis with the new media is only a matter of time rather than volition. As far as print media goes, opinions are mixed and vary from newspaper to newspaper. Some feel so threatened by the invasion of mass blogging as an alternative information network that they enter into conflicts that they are unable to win. Others recognize the value, and most of all the speed with which e-content spreads throughout society, and give it space in their publications.

How do you recognise the best e-content practices in Croatia?

WSA Croatia 05 was organized and managed by Internet Institute and patronized by the President of the Republic of Croatia. At the end of the nominations, we had received 137 applications in eight WSA categories. The contest was organized in three steps:

Step 1: Nominations

Nominations for WSA Croatia were open from 15 March to 15 May 2005 and were conducted via online application forms that were available at WSA Croatia web site. During the nominations, WSA was extensively advertised by eight media sponsors and over 30 WSA promoters.

Step 2: Evaluation

Applications received during the nomination process were evaluated by the WSA Croatia Jury, composed of eight top experts representing a cross-section of professions . The Jurors were supplied with precise instructions on the evaluation process, and a detailed list of applications received in eight WSA categories in electronic format. The jurors evaluated the applications on their own andgraded each product against each WSA criterion, returning their evaluation sheets in electronic format back to WSA Croatia administration office. We collected the grades from all the judges and produced a composite report. The jury discussed the composite report in a meeting and deliberated on the final decision choosing nominees to represent Croatia at the global contest.

Step 3: WSA Croatia 05 Award Ceremony

The winners of the WSA Croatia 05 were presented to the public.

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