The World Wide Web (WWW) empowers people in developing regions by eradicating illiteracy, supporting women, and generating economic opportunities. However, their reliance on limited bandwidth and low-end phones leaves them with a poorer browsing experience compared to privileged users across the digital divide. Addressing the digital inequality through new infrastructure takes years to complete and billions of dollars to finance. A more practical solution is to make the webpages more accessible by reducing their size and optimizing their load time. In this talk, we will discuss several solutions that we developed over the past couple of years to improve the web browsing experience in these regions. To measure the global variation in web-browsing experience, we sent participants to 56 countries revealing significant inequality in mobile data cost and page load time. Then we combined our developed solutions into a single system called Lite-Web, which we evaluate by deploying it in the Gilgit-Baltistan province of Pakistan. We demonstrate that Lite-Web transforms the browsing experience of a Pakistani villager using a low-end phone to almost that of a Dubai resident using a flagship phone. Finally, we conduct a user study in two high schools in Pakistan confirming that the performance gains come at no expense to the pages' look and functionality. These findings suggest that deploying Lite-Web at scale would constitute a major step toward a WWW without digital inequality.
Yasir Zaki is an assistant professor of CS at NYUAD, and a global network assistant professor of CS at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU. His main research is in the area of cellular communications and information and communication technologies for development (ICTD). Yasir is also an entrepreneur who co-founded GAIUS Networks Inc., and served as its CTO for almost three years. GAIUS empowers users in developing regions to interact, transact, and monetize with local content/communities, with a wide customer base distributed across Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, India, and Bangladesh.
Monday, July 31, 2023 - 02:30pm to Monday, July 31, 2023 - 03:30pm
NCS 220 or Zoom (email email@example.com for Zoom info).
Seminar, 'Towards a World Wide Web without digital inequality', Yasir Zaki: NYU Abu Dhabi