Representatives of AT&T, Google, Twitter, Howcast, Meetup, You Tube, Automatic/Wordpress, and Blue State Digital (creators of MyBarakObama.com) are visiting Iraq this week as part of the U.S. State Department’s first New Media Technology Delegation to travel to the country. “While in Iraq, the group will explore new opportunities to support Iraqi government and non-government stakeholders in Iraq’s emerging new media industry,” according to a State Department Bureau of Public Affairs press release. “During their visit to Iraq, they will provide conceptual input as well as ideas on how new technologies can be used to build local capacity, foster greater transparency and accountability, build upon anti-corruption efforts, promote critical thinking in the classroom, scale-up civil society, and further empower local entities and individuals by providing the tools for network building,” according to the press
While in Iraq, the delegation will meet with members of the Iraqi government, education and technology groups, as well as representatives of Iraqi civil society, to “explore new opportunities to support Iraqi Government and nongovernment stakeholders in Iraq’s emerging new media industry,” said acting State Department Spokesman Robert Wood.
“Learning from Iraqis about how technology is used here, what's broken, and where help is needed,” tweeted Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, member of the delegation.
"Can't wait to hear how Iraqis might embrace the potential of the people's internet in a 21st century democracy ... that's why we're here," Scott Heiferman, co-founder of Meetup, tweeted.
Five percent of Iraq citizens have internet access at home, but Automatic/WordPress vice president Raanan Bar-Cohen, another member of the delegation, predicts "around 60% broadband penetration in about 18-24 months if things go according to plan."
Among the challenges to broadband infrastructure are security measures and sabotage missions.