« Home | Project Neo // evolution » | It's a Wonderfull Internet » | Κολεξιόν web design | Χειμώνας-Καλοκαίρι 2006 » | stock.xchng vi » | Κοίτα ποιός μιλάει (για το blog σου) » | FlashTV » | Isle Lounge » | +design mag » | blogs + free.press » | Δώρο στον εαυτό μου »

Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 22

» Οι "γύφτοι έλληνες" και το laptop των $100

Σε σημερινό σχόλιο του ο Λουκάς Σταμέλλος, στο προ μηνός post για laptop των $100, γράφει:
Για μισό λεπτό...
Τί να το κάνουμε εμείς τον φορητό των 100$;;;
Το σχέδιο αυτό υλοποιείται για φτωχές χώρες, που δεν έχουν την δυνατότητα οι άνθρωποι να αγοράζουν φορητούς στα παιδιά τους. Εμείς τί να το κάνουμε; Επειδή είναι φτηνό θέλουμε κι εμείς, ως κλασσικοί γύφτοι που είμαστε;
Ας σταματήσουν οι «μπαμπάκες» και οι «μαμάκες» να παίρνουν «θρι τζι» κινητούμπες στα μαμόθρεφτα και να τους πάρουν κανένα φορητό, και αντί να πληρώνουν τον λογαριασμό του κινητού, που ο κανακάρης στέλνει εμεμές φωτό τα αχαμνά του στις ξανθοβαμμένες χαζογκομενίτσες, να πληρώνουν την συνδρομή του ίντερνετ, μπας και μπει σε καμμιά wikipedia και ξεστραβωθεί.
Άντε γιατί πολύ γύφτοι έχουμε γίνει...
ok, ας δούμε το θέμα σιγά σιγά και λογικά...

Το σχέδιο του One Laptop per Child (OLPC) έχει σαν στόχο το να αποκτήσει κάθε παιδί ένα φορητό υπολογιστή που θα το βοηθήσει στα μαθήματα του, κι όλο αυτό με ένα χαμηλό κόστος γιατί απευθείνεται σε μαθητές των υπο ανάπτυξη χωρών. Δεν αναφέρεται πουθενά, στο site του ΜΙΤ, πως "Το σχέδιο αυτό υλοποιείται για φτωχές χώρες, που δεν έχουν την δυνατότητα οι άνθρωποι να αγοράζουν φορητούς στα παιδιά τους". Αντίθετα αναφέρεται σε developing nations. Και η Ελλάδα είναι σίγουρα "υπο ανάπτυξη" (αν και πολλοί θα ετοιμάζονται τώρα για comment ότι είναι υπ'ανάπτυκτη).

Αρα, έχουμε ένα project για υπό ανάπτυξη χώρες και μια τέτοια υπό ανάπτυξη χώρα (την Ελλάδα). Αυτό, νομίζω, πως απαντάει από μόνο του και στα τρία(!) ερωτηματικά του "Τι να το κάνουμε εμείς τον φορητό των 100$;;;".

Οσον αφορά τους «μπαμπάκες» και τις «μαμάκες», δεν θεωρώ πρόβλημα το ότι αγοράζουν «θρι τζι» στα παιδιά τους, αλλά ότι δεν έχουν ιδέα, οι ίδιοι, τι ειναι αυτό που δίνουν στα παιδιά τους και δεν κάθονται να τους εξηγήσουν κάποια πράγματα πριν τους προσφέρουν ο,τιδήποτε. Ακόμη και τον καλύτερο φορητό να αγοράσουν και την πιο γρήγορη σύνδεση στο ίντερνετ, δε σημαίνει πως αυτόματα θα γίνουν καλύτεροι άνθρωποι και "θα ξεστραβωθούν σε καμμιά wikipedia" (αν και δεν είναι το καλύτερο παράδειγμα). Αντίθετα, αν δεν σταθούν συμβουλευτικά δίπλα στα παιδιά, μπορεί να δουν το όνομά τους σε κάποιο άρθρο παιδικής πορνογραφίας στη NYTimes.

Τέλος, για το "αν είμαστε γύφτοι", να θυμίσω την προ λίγων ημερών είδηση για κάποιους γονείς στην Κρήτη που κατηγορήθηκαν γιατί δεν έστελναν τα παιδιά τους στο σχολείο. Αυτά κάνουν οι non-γύφτοι Ελληνες γονείς που δεν έχουν ανάγκη από τα laptop των $100 και θεωρούνται εξελιγμένοι και υπεράνω τέτοιων προσπαθειών και "ας μορφωθούν οι αμόρφωτοι φτωχοί".

υγ. Οι Γύφτοι (η original φυλή) στέλνει τα παιδιά της στο σχολείο κάτι για το οποίο συναντούν αντιδράσεις από πολλούς non-γύφτους Ελληνες.

Μακρυά από μας καριόλη Νεγροπόντε με το μπαζο-pc σου!

upd. [27.12.05]
Η απάντηση, για το post αυτό, ήρθε με ένα comment-πρόσκληση, από τον κ.Γιάννη Μαρινούδη, για ανάγνωση ενός "πολύ καλού ποστ" για το θέμα.

Δεν με βρίσκει σύμφωνο η άποψη του bizwriter. Και όχι, δεν τα βλέπω επιφανειακά τα πράγματα. Το Ιντερνέτ μπορεί να μην τα αλλάξει όλα, αλλά έχει αλλάξει πολλά και θα αλλάξει ακόμη περισσότερα.

Οσον αφορά τους "πακτωλούς χρημάτων εξανεμίστηκαν, επενδυτές καταστράφηκαν, αλλά οι περισπούδαστοι αναλυτές πήγαν διακοπές μαζί με τις τεράστιες προμήθειες που εισέπρατταν από όλο αυτό το stock trading", δεν φταίει το μέσο. Το ίδιο φαινόμενο παρατηρήθηκε και θα παρατηρήται με κάθε τι "νεο" και άγνωστο εμφανίζεται στην "αγορά" που έχει "πρόσφορο έδαφος και μεγάλες πιθανότητες κέρδους" (βλ. χρηματιστήριο ή τυχερά παιχνίδια).

Πράγματι, "το πραγματικό χάσμα έχει να κάνει με το εισόδημα, τον αναλφαβητισμό, την υγεία και ό,τι άλλο ξεχωρίζει τις αναπτυγμένες από τις μη-αναπτυγμένες χώρες", αλλά το laptop των $100 δεν έχει το ίδιο target-group με τους Γιατρούς Χωρίς Σύνορα και την Unisef.

Και, τέλος, απορώ με την λογική του άρθρου που ενώ απ'την μια προτάσει στήθη απέναντι στην παγκόσμια φτώχια, το κακό ιντερνετ και το "άχρηστο laptop των $100, απ'την άλλη κλείνει με μια -δεν μπορώ να την χαρακτηρίσω- πρόταση για μια "άλλη τεχνολογία" την κινητή τηλεφωνία(;;;;;;;;;;;;;).
Αντί, λοιπόν, για $100 laptop, community-access centers και παρόμοια infrastructure projects αμφιβόλου αποτελεσματικότητας, θα ήταν καλύτερο οι αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες να προωθήσουν την κινητή τηλεφωνία, απελευθερώνοντας τις τηλεπικοινωνιακές τους αγορές και ενδυναμώνοντας τον ανταγωνισμό(...). Με αυτόν τον τρόπο οι εταιρείες κι οι πελάτες θα κλείσουν το χάσμα από μόνοι τους.
Τι υπολογιστής, τι κινητό, ένα πράγμα; Καταδικάζουμε αυτό που μπορεί να μας μάθει μερικά πράγματα και προσφέρουμε "ατελείωτες ώρες ομιλίας στα μέλη της οικογένειας" και "κιού σου λεβέντη μ'"; Η μήπως το Κ750 μου βοηθάει στο εισόδημα και την υγεία και δεν το έχω πάρει χαμπάρι;


Συγγνώμη για το ύφος, αλλά...
πούτσες βούρτσες το ίδιο;

By Nassos K. @ 12/22/2005 02:00:00 μ.μ.
_

10 σχόλια

  1. Blogger Beta Blank έγραψε 12/20/2005 06:39:00 μ.μ.  
    Χουμ, δεν το είδα το λινκ στο ΜΙΤ αλλά όταν μιλάνε για developing έθνη (καλός μάγκικος όρος για να μη γράφουν countries and territories - τεσπα) δεν εννοούν την Ελλάδα διότι από το 1996 και μετά (αν δεν κάνω λάθος) θεωρούμαστε developed (surprise!)

    I'll check...
  2. Blogger CrazyMonkey έγραψε 12/20/2005 06:49:00 μ.μ.  
    Αν αυτό που λες ισχύει (developed nation) τότε θέλω να γνωρίσω τον τύπο που το είπε και να τον βγάλω μια βόλτα στη Θεσσαλονίκη, στην Ξάνθη, στην Καστοριά, στην Κω κ.α.
  3. Anonymous Ανώνυμος έγραψε 12/21/2005 12:43:00 π.μ.  
    Ισχύει σίγουρα. H Ελλάδα περιλαμβάνεται στα developed nations. [...]
  4. Blogger CrazyMonkey έγραψε 12/23/2005 11:27:00 π.μ.  
    Το θέμα δεν είναι αν περιλαμβάνεται στα developed, anonymous. Το θέμα είναι αν είναι developed
  5. Anonymous Γιάννης Μαρινούδης έγραψε 12/26/2005 01:45:00 π.μ.  
    Νομίζω ότι ο κ. Λουκάς Σταμέλλος έχει δίκαιο. Μήπως τα βλέπεις λίγο επιφανειακά τα πράγματα σχετικά με το laptop των 100$; Διάβασε και αυτό το πολύ καλό ποστ αν θες.
  6. Blogger kouk έγραψε 12/28/2005 02:11:00 μ.μ.  
    CrazyMonkey, μάλλον σκέφτεσαι τοπικά (για να μην πω επιφανειακά). Στην Ελλάδα το κινητό μπορεί να είναι ένα καταναλωτικό αγαθό γιατί είχαμε ήδη σταθερή τηλεφωνία!. Στις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες όμως η έλλειψη τηλεπικοινωνιακής υποδομής είναι μεγάλη τροχοπέδη των οικονομιών και κοινωνιών τους. Το κινητό τηλέφωνο συνεπώς δεν συγκρίνεται με τίποτα με το laptop, συγκεκριμένα είναι πολύ μεγαλύτερης αξίας από το laptop για έναν κάτοικο μιας αναπτυσσόμενης χώρας.

    Επίσης παρανόησες νομίζω τον bizwriter: το internet δεν είναι κακό ή άχρηστο, απλά είναι η λάθος επένδυση αυτή την στιγμή για τις χώρες αυτές. Όταν φτάσουν στο σημείο να έχουν μια ικανοποιητική τηλεπικοινωνιακή κάλυψη στις χώρες τους τότε μιλάμε και για πρόσβαση στο internet.
  7. Blogger CrazyMonkey έγραψε 12/28/2005 02:30:00 μ.μ.  
    Μα δεν μιλάμε για πρόσβαση στο internet. Μιλάμε για προσφορά γνώσεων. Η παιδεία είναι αυτό που μπορούν να προσφέρουν οι ανεπτυγμένες χώρες στις υπο ανάπτυξη, ώστε να τις βοηθήσουν.

    Με τη γνώση και την εξέλιξη θα τους βγάλεις από την πείνα. Οχι με το να τους δώσεις φαγητό. Φαγητό δίνεις στα σκυλιά.

    Κατανοητή και λογική η ανάγκη για ένα "μέσο επικοινωνίας". Αυτό που δεν μπορώ να καταλάβω είναι το αναίτιο "κατηγορώ" του άρθρου σε μια πολύ καλή ιδέα ($100 laptop), με μόνο επιχείρημα την (άσχετη) "φούσκα του internet" και μόνη τελική αντιπρόταση την κινητή τηλεφωνία, η οποία είναι λύση αλλά σε άλλο πρόβλημα-ανάγκη.
  8. Anonymous Γιάννης Μαρινούδης έγραψε 12/30/2005 11:44:00 μ.μ.  
    Αγαπητέ, όπως έγραψα εδώ κάποιοι είτε δεν μπορούν είτε δεν θέλουν να καταλάβουν. Αν ανήκεις στους δεύτερους, τότε δεν μπορώ να κάνω τίποτα γι' αυτό. Αν ανήκεις στους πρώτους, τότε μπορώ να σε βοηθήσω να καταλάβεις παραθέτοντας τα άρθρα του Economist στα οποία παραπέμπει ο bizwriter στο post του (εδώ και εδώ).

    1.The Real Digital Divide: Encouraging the spread of mobile phones is the most sensible and effective response to the digital divide

    IT WAS an idea born in those far-off days of the internet bubble: the worry that as people in the rich world embraced new computing and communications technologies, people in the poor world would be left stranded on the wrong side of a ?digital divide?. Five years after the technology bubble burst, many ideas from the time?that ?eyeballs? matter more than profits or that internet traffic was doubling every 100 days?have been sensibly shelved. But the idea of the digital divide persists. On March 14th, after years of debate, the United Nations will launch a ?Digital Solidarity Fund? to finance projects that address ?the uneven distribution and use of new information and communication technologies? and ?enable excluded people and countries to enter the new era of the information society?. Yet the debate over the digital divide is founded on a myth?that plugging poor countries into the internet will help them to become rich rapidly.

    The lure of magic

    This is highly unlikely, because the digital divide is not a problem in itself, but a symptom of deeper, more important divides: of income, development and literacy. Fewer people in poor countries than in rich ones own computers and have access to the internet simply because they are too poor, are illiterate, or have other more pressing concerns, such as food, health care and security. So even if it were possible to wave a magic wand and cause a computer to appear in every household on earth, it would not achieve very much: a computer is not useful if you have no food or electricity and cannot read.


    Yet such wand-waving?through the construction of specific local infrastructure projects such as rural telecentres?is just the sort of thing for which the UN's new fund is intended. How the fund will be financed and managed will be discussed at a meeting in September. One popular proposal is that technology firms operating in poor countries be encouraged to donate 1% of their profits to the fund, in return for which they will be able to display a ?Digital Solidarity? logo. (Anyone worried about corrupt officials creaming off money will be heartened to hear that a system of inspections has been proposed.)

    This sort of thing is the wrong way to go about addressing the inequality in access to digital technologies: it is treating the symptoms, rather than the underlying causes. The benefits of building rural computing centres, for example, are unclear (see the article in our Technology Quarterly in this issue). Rather than trying to close the divide for the sake of it, the more sensible goal is to determine how best to use technology to promote bottom-up development. And the answer to that question turns out to be remarkably clear: by promoting the spread not of PCs and the internet, but of mobile phones.

    Plenty of evidence suggests that the mobile phone is the technology with the greatest impact on development. A new paper finds that mobile phones raise long-term growth rates, that their impact is twice as big in developing nations as in developed ones, and that an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country increases GDP growth by 0.6 percentage points (see article).

    And when it comes to mobile phones, there is no need for intervention or funding from the UN: even the world's poorest people are already rushing to embrace mobile phones, because their economic benefits are so apparent. Mobile phones do not rely on a permanent electricity supply and can be used by people who cannot read or write.

    Phones are widely shared and rented out by the call, for example by the ?telephone ladies? found in Bangladeshi villages. Farmers and fishermen use mobile phones to call several markets and work out where they can get the best price for their produce. Small businesses use them to shop around for supplies. Mobile phones are used to make cashless payments in Zambia and several other African countries. Even though the number of phones per 100 people in poor countries is much lower than in the developed world, they can have a dramatic impact: reducing transaction costs, broadening trade networks and reducing the need to travel, which is of particular value for people looking for work. Little wonder that people in poor countries spend a larger proportion of their income on telecommunications than those in rich ones.

    The digital divide that really matters, then, is between those with access to a mobile network and those without. The good news is that the gap is closing fast. The UN has set a goal of 50% access by 2015, but a new report from the World Bank notes that 77% of the world's population already lives within range of a mobile network.

    And yet more can be done to promote the diffusion of mobile phones. Instead of messing around with telecentres and infrastructure projects of dubious merit, the best thing governments in the developing world can do is to liberalise their telecoms markets, doing away with lumbering state monopolies and encouraging competition. History shows that the earlier competition is introduced, the faster mobile phones start to spread. Consider the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, for example. Both have average annual incomes of a mere $100 per person, but the number of phones per 100 people is two in the former (where there are six mobile networks), and 0.13 in the latter (where there is only one).

    Let a thousand networks bloom

    According to the World Bank, the private sector invested $230 billion in telecommunications infrastructure in the developing world between 1993 and 2003?and countries with well-regulated competitive markets have seen the greatest investment. Several firms, such as Orascom Telecom (see article) and Vodacom, specialise in providing mobile access in developing countries. Handset-makers, meanwhile, are racing to develop cheap handsets for new markets in the developing world. Rather than trying to close the digital divide through top-down IT infrastructure projects, governments in the developing world should open their telecoms markets. Then firms and customers, on their own and even in the poorest countries, will close the divide themselves.


    2. Development: Much is made of the ?digital divide? between rich and poor. What do people on the ground think about it?

    IN THE village of Embalam in southern India, about 15 miles outside the town of Pondicherry, Arumugam and his wife, Thillan, sit on the red earth in front of their thatch hut. She is 50 years old; he is not sure, but thinks he is around 75. Arumugam is unemployed. He used to work as a drum-beater at funerals, but then he was injured, and now he has trouble walking. Thillan makes a little money as a part-time agricultural labourer?about 30 rupees ($0.70) a day, ten days a month. Other than that, they get by on meagre (and sporadic) government disability payments.

    In the new India of cybercaf?s and software tycoons, Arumugam and Thillan, and the millions of other villagers around the country like them, seem like anachronisms. But just a few steps outside their section of the village?a section known as the ?colony?, where the untouchables traditionally live?the sheen of India's technology boom is more evident in a green room equipped with five computers, state-of-the-art solar cells and a wireless connection to the internet. This is the village's Knowledge Centre, one of 12 in the region set up by a local non-profit organisation, the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). The centres, established with the aid of international donor agencies and local government support, offer villagers a range of information, including market prices for crops, job listings, details of government welfare schemes, and health advice.

    A conservative estimate of the cost of the equipment in the Embalam centre is 200,000 rupees ($4,500), or around 55 years' earnings for Thillan. Annual running costs are extra. When asked about the centre, Thillan laughs. ?I don't know anything about that,? she says. ?It has no connection to my life. We're just sitting here in our house trying to survive.?

    Scenes like these, played out around the developing world, have led to something of a backlash against rural deployments of new information and communications technologies, or ICTs, as they are known in the jargon of development experts. In the 1990s, at the height of the technology boom, rural ICTs were heralded as catalysts for ?leapfrog development?, ?information societies? and a host of other digital-age panaceas for poverty. Now they have largely fallen out of favour: none other than Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, derides them as distractions from the real problems of development. ?Do people have a clear view of what it means to live on $1 a day?? he asked at a conference on the digital divide in 2000. ?About 99% of the benefits of having a PC come when you've provided reasonable health and literacy to the person who's going to sit down and use it.? That is why, even though Mr Gates made his fortune from computers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, now the richest charity in the world, concentrates on improving health in poor countries.

    The backlash against ICTs is understandable. Set alongside the medieval living conditions in much of the developing world, it seems foolhardy to throw money at fancy computers and internet links. Far better, it would appear, to spend scarce resources on combating AIDS, say, or on better sanitation facilities. Indeed, this was the conclusion reached by the recently concluded Copenhagen Consensus project, which brought together a group of leading economists to prioritise how the world's development resources should be spent (see articles). The panel came up with 17 priorities: spending more on ICTs was not even on the list.

    Still, it may be somewhat hasty to write off rural technology altogether. Charles Kenny, a senior economist at the World Bank who has studied the role of ICTs in development, says that traditional cost-benefit calculations are in the best of cases ?an art, not a science?. With ICTs, he adds, the picture is further muddied by the newness of the technologies; economists simply do not know how to quantify the benefits of the internet.

    The view from the ground

    Given the paucity of data, then, and even of sound methodologies for collecting the data, an alternative way to evaluate the role of ICTs in development is simply to ask rural residents what they think. Applied in rural India, in the villages served by the MSSRF, this approach reveals a more nuanced picture than that suggested by the sceptics, though not an entirely contradictory one.

    Villagers like Arumugam and Thillan?older, illiterate and lower caste?appear to have little enthusiasm for technology. Indeed, Thillan, who lives barely a five-minute walk from the village's Knowledge Centre, says she did not even know about its existence until two months ago (even though the centre has been open for several years). When Thillan and a group of eight neighbours are asked for their development priorities?a common man's version of the Copenhagen Consensus?they list sanitation, land, health, education, transport, jobs?the list goes on and on, but it does not include computers, or even telephones. They are not so much sceptical of ICTs as oblivious; ICTs are irrelevant to their lives. This attitude is echoed by many villagers at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. In the fishing community of Veerapatinam, the site of another MSSRF centre, Thuradi, aged 45, sits on the beach sorting through his catch. ?I'm illiterate,? he says, when asked about the centre. ?I don't know how to use a computer, and I have to fish all day.?

    But surely technology can provide information for the likes of Thuradi, even if he does not sit down in front of the computers himself? Among other things, the centre in this village offers information on wave heights and weather patterns (information that Thuradi says is already available on television). Some years ago, the centre also used satellites to map the movements of large schools of fish in the ocean. But according to another fisherman, this only benefited the rich: poor fishermen, lacking motorboats and navigation equipment, could not travel far enough, or determine their location precisely enough, to use the maps.

    Such stories bring to mind the uneven results of earlier technology-led development efforts. Development experts are familiar with the notion of ?rusting tractors??a semi-apocryphal reference to imported agricultural technologies that littered poor countries in the 1960s and 1970s. Mr Kenny says he similarly anticipates ?a fair number of dusty rooms with old computers piled up in them around the countryside.?

    That may well be true, but it does not mean that the money being channelled to rural technology is going entirely unappreciated. Rural ICTs appear particularly useful to the literate, to the wealthier and to the younger?those, in other words, who sit at the top of the socio-economic hierarchy. In the 12 villages surrounding Pondicherry, students are among the most frequent users of the Knowledge Centres; they look up exam results, learn computer skills and look for jobs. Farmers who own land or cattle, and who are therefore relatively well-off, get veterinary information and data on crop prices.
    ?I'm illiterate,? says one fisherman. ?I don't know how to use a computer, and I have to fish all day.?

    Outside the Embalam colony, at a village teashop up the road from the temple, Kumar, the 35-year-old shop owner, speaks glowingly about the centre's role in disseminating crop prices and information on government welfare schemes, and says the Knowledge Centre has made his village ?famous?. He cites the dignitaries from development organisations and governments who have visited; he also points to the fact that people from 25 surrounding villages come to use the centre, transforming Embalam into something of a local information hub.

    At the centre itself, Kasthuri, a female volunteer who helps run the place, says that the status of women in Embalam has improved as a result of using the computers. ?Before, we were just sitting at home,? she says. ?Now we feel empowered and more in control.? Some economists might dismiss such sentiments as woolly headed. But they are indicators of a sense of civic pride and social inclusiveness that less conventional economists might term human development or well-being.

    A question of priorities

    Given the mixed opinions on the ground, then, the real issue is not whether investing in ICTs can help development (it can, in some cases, and for some people), but whether the overall benefits of doing so outweigh those of investing in, say, education or health. Leonard Waverman of the London Business School has compared the impact on GDP of increases in teledensity (the number of telephones per 100 people) and the primary-school completion rate. He found that an increase of 100 basis points in teledensity raised GDP by about twice as much as the same increase in primary-school completion. As Dr Waverman acknowledges, however, his calculations do not take into account the respective investment costs?and it is the cost of ICTs that makes people such as Mr Gates so sceptical of their applicability to the developing world.
    AFP Now that's what I call antivirus technology

    Indeed, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai (formerly Madras), argues that cost is the ?deciding factor? in determining whether the digital divide will ever be bridged. To that end, Dr Jhunjhunwala and his colleagues are working on a number of low-cost devices, including a remote banking machine and a fixed wireless system that cuts the cost of access by more than half. But such innovation takes time and is itself expensive.

    Perhaps a more immediate way of addressing the cost of technology is to rely on older, more proven means of delivering information. Radios, for example, are already being used by many development organisations; their cost (under $10) is a fraction of the investment (at least $800) required for a telephone line. In Embalam and Veerapatinam, few people actually ever sit at a computer; they receive much of their information from loudspeakers on top of the Knowledge Centre, or from a newsletter printed at the centre and delivered around the village. Such old-fashioned methods of communication can be connected to an internet hub located further upstream; these hybrid networks may well represent the future of technology in the developing world.

    But for now, it seems that the most cost-effective way of providing information over the proverbial ?last mile? is often decidedly low-tech. On December 26th 2004, villagers in Veerapatinam had occasion to marvel at the reliability of a truly old-fashioned source of information. As the Asian tsunami swept towards the south Indian shoreline, over a thousand villagers were gathered safely inland around the temple well. About an hour and a half before the tsunami, the waters in the well had started bubbling and rising to the surface; by the time the wave hit, a whirlpool had formed and the villagers had left the beach to watch this strange phenomenon.

    Nearby villages suffered heavy casualties, but in Veerapatinam only one person died out of a total population of 6,200. The villagers attribute their fortuitous escape to divine intervention, not technology. Ravi, a well-dressed man standing outside the Knowledge Centre, says the villagers received no warning over the speakers. ?We owe everything to Her,? he says, referring to the temple deity. ?I'm telling you honestly,? he says. ?The information came from Her.?

    3. Calling across the divide: New research examines the link between mobile phones and economic growth in the developing world

    WEDGED between stalls of dried fish and mounds of plastic goods, a red shipping container is loaded with Coca-Cola bottles. The local distributor for Soweto market, located in a tatty corner of Zambia's capital city, Lusaka, sells all its stock every few days. A full load costs 10m kwacha (about $2,000). In cash, this amount can be hard to get hold of, takes ages to count and?being ten times the average annual wage?is tempting to thieves. So Coca-Cola now tells its 300 Zambian distributors to pay for deliveries not in cash, but by sending text messages from their mobile phones. The process takes about 30 seconds, and the driver issues a receipt. Faraway computers record the movement of money and stock. Coca-Cola is not alone. Around the corner from the market, a small dry-cleaning firm lets customers pay for laundry using their phones. So do Zambian petrol stations, and dozens of bigger shops and restaurants.

    This is just one example of the many innovative ways in which mobile phones are being used in the poorest parts of the world. Anecdotal evidence for mobile phones' ability to boost economic activity is abundant: they enable fishermen or farmers to check prices at different markets before selling produce, make it easier for people to look for jobs, and prevent wasted journeys. Mobile phones reduce transaction costs, broaden trade networks and substitute for costly physical transport. They are of particular value when other means of communication (such as roads, post or fixed-line phones) are poor or non-existent.

    This can be hard for people in the rich world to understand, because the ways in which mobile phones are used in the poor world are so different. In particular, phones are widely shared. One person in a village buys a mobile phone, perhaps using a micro-credit loan. Others then rent it out by the minute; the small profit margin enables its owner to pay back the loan and make a living. When the phone rings, its owner carries it to the home of the person being called, who then takes the call. Other entrepreneurs can set up as ?text message interpreters?, sending and receiving text messages (which are generally cheaper than voice calls) on behalf of their customers, who may be illiterate. So although the number of phones per 100 people is low by rich-world standards, they still make a big difference.

    The strong demand for mobile telephony in poor countries is illustrated by booming subscriber growth. Subscriber growth in several sub-Saharan African countries exceeded 150% last year, and there are now eight mobile phones for every 100 people in Africa, up from three in 2001. World Bank figures show that people in developing countries spend a larger proportion of their income on telecommunications than those in the rich world. Yet this is all merely indirect evidence for the impact of mobile telecoms on economic growth. After all, as people become richer, they have more money to spend on things like phone calls. A new study by Leonard Waverman, of the London Business School, and Meloria Meschi and Melvyn Fuss, of LECG, an economics consultancy, provides the most detailed analysis yet of the relationship between mobile phones and economic growth. (It was one of several papers presented this week at a meeting organised by Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator.)

    In a previous paper, published in 2001, Mr Waverman used a ?production-function? model to examine the impact of fixed-line telecoms in the developed world in the 1970s and 1980s, the pre-mobile era. He found that investment in telecoms significantly enhanced output, allowing (using nifty statistical tests) for the fact that demand for telecoms services increases as GDP rises. Since then, other researchers have tried to apply the same approach to mobile telecoms in the developing world. But this requires detailed annual data, says Mr Waverman, which are not always available; and even when they are, the results are not robust. So he and his colleagues tried another way, called the endogenous-growth model, which is widely used to investigate differences in growth rates between countries. They used this to examine the impact of telecoms on economic growth in 92 countries, both rich and poor, between 1980 and 2003.

    A digital dividend

    Reassuringly, the results confirmed Mr Waverman's previous results about the impact of fixed-line telecoms in the rich world in the 1970s and 1980s. The model also suggested that the subsequent roll-out of mobile phones in the rich world had a smaller, but still significant, benefit. In developing countries, however, the growth dividend was twice as big?similar to that of fixed-line phones in the rich world in the 1970s. This makes sense, since in most poor countries mobiles are the first phone networks to be widely deployed; there are relatively few fixed-line phones. Overall, Mr Waverman's model suggests that in a typical developing country, an increase of ten mobile phones per 100 people boosts GDP growth by 0.6 percentage points.

    To illustrate these findings, Mr Waverman considers Indonesia (nine mobile phones per 100 people) and the Philippines (27 phones per 100 people). Long-run growth in the Philippines, he suggests, could be a percentage point higher than in Indonesia if this gap is maintained. But if Indonesia closed the gap, its growth rate would match that of the Philippines. Mr Waverman also notes, however, that there is a large education gap between the two countries. His model predicts that bridging this divide would boost Indonesia's growth rate even more than closing the mobile gap. ?Mobile phones are important, but so is education and health care,? he says. ?A lot of things are required for growth.? He concludes by calling for regulatory policies that favour competition and encourage the speediest possible spread of mobile telephony. For policymakers interested in closing the ?digital divide? to boost growth, the message is clear: mobile phones are the most effective means of doing so.

    Είτε ανήκεις στην πρώτη κατηγορία ανθρώπων είτε στην δεύτερη που ανέφερα παραπάνω σου εύχομαι Καλή Πρωτοχρονιά!
  9. Anonymous Λουκάς Σταμέλλος έγραψε 1/16/2006 02:43:00 μ.μ.  
    Για να μη πολυλογούμε, τα ίδια πράγματα λέμε, αλλά μάλλον δεν έγινα σαφής.
    Συμφωνώ απολύτως. Σε μια χώρα που οι γονείς δεν ξέρουν τί τους γίνεται και τα παιδιά πάσχουν από έλλειψη διαπαιδαγώγησης και όχι υλικών αγαθων, τί χρησιμότητα έχει ο φορητός των 100$;
    Και το ότι επιμένω να δοθεί σε φτωχές χώρες και όχι σ'εμάς, δεν είναι λόγω "συγκατάβασης", αλλά λόγω του ότι εκεί έχουν περισσότερη δίψα αλλά και προσπαθούν για εκπαιδευτικές υποδομές (π.χ. WiFi στα σχολεία, VoIP τηλεφωνία μέσω WiFi και δεν συμμαζεύεται).
    Εμείς δεν έχουμε ανάγκη βοήθειας. Ανάγκη ξεστραβώματος έχουμε.

    Υ.Γ. Και λιγώτερου φανατισμού: το "γύφτοι" δεν το χρησιμοποίησα ποτέ ως φυλετικό όρο, όπως γίνεται υπαινιγμός ότι έκανα, αλλά ως επίθετο, συμπεριφοράς σημαντικό για την πλειοψηφία των συμπολιτών μας, η οποία είναι και η κοινότατη χρήση του.
  10. Blogger VOIP Provider έγραψε 7/02/2006 03:58:00 μ.μ.  
    There is a huge explosion in the world of Internet phones. If you would like the latest information or get your VOIP ebook, feel free to visit.

Δημοσίευση σχολίου

« Home