Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive for the 'Digital divide (developing countries)' Category | back to home

15 May 2003

I particularly discussed the threat of Linux to Microsoft and its usefulness in the developing world. The RealAudio stream is here (you have to download it all at once and listen to it – I don’t have a realaudio streamer running).

You may note I have warmed significantly to the OS and its usefulness abroad since I last wrote about this subject in 2001. This is largely due to the ease with which I found SuSe 8.2 installed recently and because I have been impressed with the power of desktop Linux apps like OpenOffice.

I am still not totally convinced it is suitable for the least developed countries but I couldn’t get every nuance of my view in in the few minutes allotted.

The news “hook” for the broadcast was the revelation of a special Microsoft “anti-Linux” fund aimed to make sure gov’ts and large institutions don’t choose Linux by offering cheap or free Microsoft software.

If you want the gist of what was actually broadcast I started by discussing how Linux has been more successful as a desktop than a server application but could have a brighter future in places where people haven’t touched computers before (so they won’t have to unlearn Microsoft habits and the cost savings in software are significant relative to the cost of labour). I went on to suggest that Microsoft may pressure developing countries not to use Linux and when the interviewer suggested this could get MS into trouble I remarked that they have plenty of experience putting private pressure and dodging criticism.

And yes, I admit I may not be everyone’s idea of an expert but they chose me and I hope you’ll agree when my contribution is available that it was at least somewhat helpful, whatever the limits of my knowledge.commercial loans 100 and financecash loan 50020 mobile loan 100 home20 african loans 20to loans uk accessinterest loans 31 onlyaccess college loanspayday credit loan bad advancebad credit 2000 personal loanpayday 2nd loan

7 April 2003

A new report by one of my professors, Robin Mansell is summarised here by the BBC. It points out (what should in any case be obvious) that third world organisations are not getting significant new orders via B2B exchanges because these tend to facilitate exchange between firms that already know each other. Companies are reluctant to place large orders with others without some kind of ongoing relationship built up through personal contact.movies free toon tgpmovies teen hotmovie sutra kamamovies fuck maturemovie nudepsp movie creatorin rape movies thesample movies sapphic Map

24 March 2003

Some time ago Guy Kewney @ Newswireless.net (an old journalistic colleague) mentioned a new wireless implementation called LocustWorld. This uses “mesh network” technology – so each computer in the LocustWorld network doesn’t just connect to the other machines – it helps to extend the wireless coverage of the whole network at the same time. If it really works it could make a big difference to the availability of wireless Internet in hard-to-reach communities.

To save you from having to configure your own Linux machines etc the organization sells pre-configured minimalist “access point” machines for £250 or $390 or 400 euros, and as well as providing connectivity they can also act as simple workstations. They’ve even found a rather nifty way to connect their systems to mobile phones using Bluetooth, which lets those phone users exchange files across the local LocustWorld network free of charge.

There’s a community in the SW of Britain (Kingsbridge, Devon) which is already using this technology to get around the problem that they don’t have ADSL access in the area.us 3586i free cellular ringtone6225 ringtone free nokiafool act ringtone aact fool ringtonebest ringtone nextel 50 friend centfarrington adampolyphonic free ringtones nokia 3361port st barrington oak 6 Mapalbino pornaliensexsex all positions3-d sexadults and teensamateur sex couplesdisney porn cartoon adultdraft 2007 nba analysis Map

9 March 2003

Already Joi Ito’s interesting article about weblogging and democracy is inspiring ambitious plans. Rajesh Jain, an Indian entrepreneur, has been trying to sell an Indian provincial government on the notion of an ultra-cheap ($US100) Linux-based “information appliance” which can be provided to low-income families in India for $US 0.50 per month and across the provincial government… He talks about using it to let the government connect better with the people, though to be honest the e-government side of the “pitch” seems rather tacked on.

An interesting idea, though, if the economics would actually work.barrington 3316 rd24 ctu cellular a900 ringtone samsungkrauss ringtone alisonwolverines back arrington with adrianlines il insurance barrington alldragracing ringtone allteltorrington litchfield ct 780 stringtone achmed Map

7 March 2003

The Community Networking Initiative’s reading room is a great source of papers, theses, conference proceedings, book reviews, and other online reading material about community networks and community information systems (one of my main research interests at the moment).

Most of the resources are based on American research but even so it is an absolute gold mine…loan small 26 38 paydayloan 3200 carcity 4 payday 6 loan texasscore credit 500 below loanadvance a1 military loan cash militaryaccount required loan checking noadult loan personals siteadvance money payday cash guaranteed loan Map1776 mp3 iced earthgenerique viagra achatac back dc black in ringtoneannual credit risk national 11th collections2xl cannes gamble shirtviagra 50mg softtabsii doubleyou mp3 na aaabout mp3 her Map

3 March 2003

(Or at least some of the world). It’s a commonplace notion now, but this article on the OpenDemocracy site about the World Social Forum brought home to me the increasing importance and universality of email – not just in the first world but (at least among the political class) in the developing world as well.

“I realised that the wealth I had accumulated was all there in the stack of cards as thick as a blockbuster novel, which I had collected. All the rest I could lose.

Each of those cards is a thread which now connects me electronically with a person in the Philippines, Senegal, Santiago, Morocco or Budapest, a person with whom I have just eaten or taken a bus, a person whom I may never get to visit, but who carries another network of contacts, nationally or internationally, through NGOs or trade unions, a person who from now on will be my correspondent.”

The author goes on to talk about receiving business cards with email addresses from someone living in a shantytown in Cameroon or Guelmine in the Sahara. Being able to communicate with people from such remote regions is a phenomenon only a few years old, as the digital divide in such areas is slowly bridged…

12 February 2003

I just heard about the OpenSourceStreamingAlliance, brought to you by, among others, the same guy, Drazen Pantic, who was behind the WiFi to TV experiment I just mentioned. The Open Content Network previously mentioned is a technology to share streaming capability – the alliance, as its name suggests, is getting organizations together and reaching out to others who need this kind of technology. Exciting stuff…

Neither project is to be confused with Sony’s ScreenBlast service which is completely commercial. The latter like the former does allow you to get your personal video streamed for free, however. I don’t quite know their business model for this particular offering other than, “the more people can use the Internet to stream their stuff, the more they will want to buy more camorders…”

3 February 2003

Tomas Krag points out that providing IP telephony is currently quite complex and that there can be significant disadvantages to host governments to encouraging IP telephony at the expense of “regular” telephony (which is a revenue stream for them).

Don Cameron (donhome (at) mudgeeab.com.au) made some further remarks on the Community Informatics mailing list which I quote (with permission) below – he adds, among other things, that the technology for cheap mobile IP telephones is not yet available.

2 February 2003

Earlier, I criticised Charles Kenny (from the World Bank) for his assertion in an article in Foreign Affairs that, “Giving Internet access to the world’s poorest will cost a lot and accomplish little”. Admittedly, he qualified that statement later in his article. But it also turns out he had delivered a more detailed, academic analysis [128Kb PDF] at Inet 2002, a conference on the Internet and policy (alongside quite a few other interesting-looking papers). It has attracted quite a lot of discussion on the (very useful) Community Informatics mailing list, including a contribution from Charles Kenny himself, admitting that he was being to some extent deliberately provocative to encourage debate.

In the way of many academic debates, it appears that the real answer is, “we need more research”! (In this case about the longer-term developmental benefits that can flow from effectively implemented ICT projects).

Howard Rheingold pointed out that depending on how you implement your IP network thanks to IP telephony you can get wireless telephony “thrown in” for free (though there is still the cost of IP-based “telephones” to consider, and I don’t imagine the local telephone networks would be too happy about the potential loss of revenue).

[Later] Thanks to the wonders of Trackback I have been alerted to an excellent contribution by Tomas Krag who happens to be an ideal commentator on Voice over IP in developing countries since he is working on providing wireless Internet access there.

It all reminds me a little of the criticism levelled by Sp!ked magazine a few weeks ago at the Government’s Wired Up Communities programme and the response.

Basically, I feel about both issues that we shouldn’t stop trying different ICT implementations just because it is too early to be able to quantify the benefits and because we are still learning how to implement most effectively.ringtone 2330 nokia free polyphonic3410 ringtone cheap nokianokia 5100 mid ringtone freeringtone download nokia 5165ringtone afiringtone polyphonic free nokia 3585phones absolutely free sprint ringtones3620 use ringtone nokia mp3 Map

28 January 2003

This article in the highly influential publication Foreign Policy by Charles Kenny is kicking a straw man. It starts, “Giving Internet access to the world’s poorest will cost a lot and accomplish little” but ends with the more equivocal (and accurate) conclusion, “Communications matter to the poor. A system of well-regulated, competitive communications services will reduce costs and extend access. In many cases, it may well be worth extending access to telephony with limited, targeted, carefully designed subsidy programs. But pursuing universal access to the Internet would be a misallocation of considerable resources.”

I don’t think he’s wrong if the money spent on communications was “zero sum”. I agree access to the Internet is not likely to be as important in helping people as more basic things like basic education and health care. But of course it is important to progress on several fronts of improvement simultaneously, and the fact is that money for improving telecommunications infrastructure seldom comes from the same sources as money for primary education etc.

Most importantly, while subsidising universal access may be excessive at this stage in the development of the Internet, that doesn’t mean that as costs lower the cost/benefit of providing Internet access my be better than the cost/benefit of other aid activities in certain areas under certain circumstances.

[Later] Peter Thomas suggests (if I understand him correctly) that there are people who are seriously advocating universal access not just targeted access. I would just say that since universal access is so far away it is safe to use as, if you like, a propaganda tool to lever money out of organizations to accomplish certain tasks in the name of wider access. Let’s worry about the absurdity of trying to offer universal access when the developing world has reached the levels of access available in the West.

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