Picking ICT Targets

Space65What do we mean when we want to use information communication technology? Do we want to bring light to the dark areas? This metaphor from colonial times brings with it certain implications that may or may not mean progress.

Consider UK’s Digital Strategy and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s leading statement: “Universal internet access is vital if we are not only to avoid social divisions over the new economy but to create a knowledge economy of the future which is for everyone. Because it’s likely that the internet will be as ubiquitous and as normal as electricity is today. For business. Or for individuals.”

Is this a portable desire? What does this do to solve core-gap problems, as described by Dr Thomas Barnett? Is the goal to connect all the networks ala Castells? How, as Younghusband at ComingAnarchy asked me, can we use ICT to defeat terrorist networks? ICT seems like it should be able to short-circuit the supply of recruits to the other side. Do wind-up laptops for teachers and/or students contribute to the development of social awareness, including human rights, and the importance of the environment? If people "upgrade", will the dark go away?

5 Replies to “Picking ICT Targets”

  1. 2 ICT or not 2 ICT?
    Matt from MountainRunner asks:
    What do we mean when we want to use information communication technology? Are we seeking to bring light to the dark areas? … What does this do to solve core-gap problems as described by Dr Thomas Barnett? … How…

  2. The amount of investment in infrastructure it will take to get these developing countries online will be immense. Tajikistan has only an estimated 4100 internet users, for example, and they are all dial-up. The internet revolution didn’t really strike the developed countries until broadband had high penetration. The likelihood of developing countries getting widespread broadband connectivity is low. BUT, we could see a leap-frog effect. Telephone connectivity in Mongolia was terrible because they couldn’t afford to criss-cross the country with phone lines. But as cellular technology became more available, telecommunications connectivity in that country has skyrocketed. If we in the developed nations get over our ADSL and Optic Fiber and figure out a more 3G-like solution for broadband wireless connections, these countries with no infrastructure could “leap” decades of development in one jump just by setting up a few towers, or piggy-backing off some rich nations satellite network.

  3. What about WLL (wireless local loops) / RITL (radio in the loop) to link multiple nodes to one broadband transmission? In the ICT literature, I’m amazed at the focus on apparent broadband requirements. It seems heavy lifting of multimedia content is almost desired but the infrastructure is clearly not there. The expectation remote sites should have 100% democratic access to all the world’s content seems lofty. WAP is a fine protocol (I think there’s a new version) for light-weight broadcast. Running content through a “filter” / redisplay site like AvantGo for low bandwidth would provide benefit, no? Waiting for 3G deployed in the Serengeti seems like a pipedream, but piggybacking on a satellites is great and potentially lower impact than hoping for iTunes downloads via the shared link. Thoughts?

  4. Funny you mentioned WLL. I was thinking about WiMAX, which can actually “share” a tower with regular old cellular service. Check out Wikipedia’s entry for this quote:

    Given developing countries’ (such as in Africa) limited wired infrastructure, the costs to install a WiMAX station in conjunction with an existing cellular tower or even as a solitary hub will be diminutive in comparison to developing a wired solution. The wide, flat expanses and low population density of such an area lends itself well to WiMAX and its current diametrical range of 30 miles. For countries that have skipped wired infrastructure as a result of inhibitive costs and unsympathetic geography, WiMAX can enhance wireless infrastructure in an inexpensive, decentralized, deployment-friendly and effective manner.

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