Access to the internet through the world wide web and newsgroups (email lists) creates the impression that Papua is only a mouse-click away.
A search for Papua reveals a proliferation of websites, webpages, web logs (blogs), photo albums and video repositories which represent its
diverse peoples and cultures, its stunning nature, fabulous resource wealth and troubled politics. This virtual Papua is remarkable,
but the view it affords us of Papua is inherently limited. This is, in part, because of the limited web-presence of individual and
institutional stakeholders from Papua. To better understand these limitations requires an appreciation of the development challenges in
Papua today and a recognition of recent global trends in internet usage. This mix of factors determines internet uptake in Papua
(and across Indonesia) and shapes information about - and representations of - Papua and Papuans on the web.
Only a few years ago infrastructure constraints on internet access in Papua were profound, with slow connection speeds, chronically
overloaded networks and limited access to computers in many government departments, tertiary institutions, non-government organisations,
and private homes. In recent years access has significantly improved with an increase in the use of dedicated local internet servers
(via satellite links) by some institutional and private subscribers in larger cities like Jayapura, Manokwari, Sorong and Timika.
Despite these developments, cheap internet providers can be as congested as Jayapura’s roads network and rolling-blackouts as diabolical,
as the city struggles to cope with a burgeoning population. Improvements in internet infrastructure in Papua is also not reflected in a
proliferation of internet cafes across the province(s). It appears the relative ease of internet access in the home and workplace among
an affluent and computer literate urban elite in Papua has reduced demand for low-cost public internet access. At the same time, growth
in demand for internet cafes, public library internet access and the like remains severely constrained by a lack of basic literacy among
a majority of Papuans who also lack access to the educational and employment opportunities necessary to acquire computer literacy.
Yet some of these individuals are coming to rely on a parallel communication technology which has lower costs and barriers to entry.
The rapid expansion of a 'third generation' (3G) telephone network into all of the 34 regency capitals of the provinces of Papua
and West Papua (see Papuaweb's governance pages) makes for high-speed wireless connectivity possible
in some of the most remote locations in Indonesia. This includes options for email, internet access, video-calls and the like from a
handset or notebook computer (via a G3 adaptor). State of the art G3 mobile phones have reportedly been distributed to senior government
staff in these districts by the provincial government of Papua. While G3 mobiles are expensive to buy and operate, the use of less sophisticated
mobile phones is widespread in Papua and across the country. SIM cards are available for a mere Rp.25,000 (less than USD$2) and although these
Subscriber Identity Module cards are used to regulate user privileges in some countries, in post-New Order Indonesia SIM cards require no proof
of ID prior to use. SMS (Short Message Service), phone calls and basic handsets are similarly cheap, particularly given the substantial cost of
establishing and maintaining mobile infrastructure in places like Papua. While anedotal evidence suggests most G3 mobiles owners in Papua today
use their phones only for conversation and SMS, it is likely that some of these users will gradually avail themselves of other possibilities
available through G3 (and G4) technologies - acquiring computer literacy through the convergence of these technologies.
If they do, they too may want to know what there is to know of Papua via the world wide web.
The Papuaweb team hope that the World Wide Web Virtual Library for Papua helps you find the best available online resources about Papua.
While some of these resources are to be found on internet sites hosted within Papua, many other sites are hosted elsewhere and most are available in
Indonesian, English, Dutch, German or Japanese (which will require an extended character set).