ISSUE 187: POSTCARD FROM WSIS IN GENEVA - EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE
Splutter, choke, cough, wheeze...I don’t believe it. Here I am, setting up the plan for obliterating the Digital Divide, getting the developing countries off their foreign aid habit and onto sustainable development, and giving billions of people a voice in the conversation about their future, and he says people can’t come up with a better excuse than a trade show??!!?! Stuff and nonsense. Humbug! Bah! Furbledurble. Mmph-hrrmmph-kmph-foo. He’s been talking to the wrong people.
I’m not talking about onesy-twosy hole-in-the-wall computers, or fishing boats calling to shore to get the best price for their catch at the ports within range. I’m not talking about putting computers in schools and not teaching anybody how to use them. I’m talking about a group of people putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together—education, health, e-governance, community development, microcredit, village employment and entrepreneurship, yadda-yadda-yadda, in a sustainable and replicable manner, so that the villagers can afford it. That means, of course, that the initial investment has to result in sufficient economic growth to pay for the next round, and that one the one after, and so on and on.
You can say that nobody has seen it work, and why should we believe in it then? But that fact is that rural economic development has been seen in numerous countries. It was the precursor to the Industrial Revolution throughout Europe, Australia, and parts of North America, and it has happened also in Japan, Korea, several Chinese speaking countries, and Thailand. And all without computers and with minimal communications. We know from history some of the conditions that made it happen, and we can replicate many of them, starting with literacy and more general education.
Well, never mind. Talk is cheap. Let’s go create facts on the ground and then invite Southwood to have a look.