An Apple on every desk and a Blackberry in every hand

26 Sep

Pop Quiz:  Of the over 6 billion people on our planet, how many mobile subscriptions exist globally? Wait for it…wait for it…give up? 4.6 billion according to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals Report.  That means that there’s a cell phone plan for 67% of the world’s population.  But don’t let the good news fool you. Think about it…how many of your corporate enslaved friends carry around an extra Blackberry on the weekends in case “Harry” at the office can’t find the blah-blah file and needs to reach them? I see a lot of hands going up.  The bottom line is that the majority of this technology abounds in the first world while the rest of the planet continues to struggle to compete with an increasingly developed developing world.

Although, according to the Report, mobile “penetration” (creepy choice of words, fellas!) exceeded 50% in the developing world by the end of last year.  What’s more, in sub-Saharan Africa, the development community’s barometer for how well they’re doing, over 30% of the population owns a cell phone.  All these statistics tell me one thing: the land line is about to die a quick death.  Until, of course, some study comes along confirming a link between brain tumors and cell phone use.  Then, we’ll have us a good old-fashioned cell phone burning bonfire! And I’ll be forced in to taking Time Warner up on it’s Triple Play, Triple Pay plan 😦

In terms of human rights however, the real issue to be focusing on is continual access to the internet or digital inclusion as they call it.  In developing  nations, about 68% of the population has access to the internet.  In Latin America, 29%; in Southeast Asia, 14% and just 6% of the populations of Southern Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa have access to the web.  Nevertheless, these numbers were significantly lower just five years before at around 1%.  Statistically, considerable progress is being made. 

Let’s not break our arm patting ourselves on the back just yet. There is still the problem of broadband capabilities not just in the developing world but everywhere.  In January of last year, President Obama pledged to include broadband expansion in his overall economic growth plan and has since delivered on that promise, extending funding to various regions around the U.S.  The majority of the world, however still uses dial-up internet which can run painfully slow.  The U.N. says that by the end of 2008, fixed broadband penetration (again?) around the developing world was less than 3%.  Life is hard enough in developing nations; a slow dial-up internet connection would make me homicidal!  Strengthening broadband capabilities around the globe should be a top priority for all development projects in progress or still in the planning stages.  Technological advancements in the developing world could in just a few short years achieve the same goals of development that most other projects take decades to accomplish.  Then, the world would finally be on a (relatively) even playing field…and perhaps look more like this:

and less like this:

Advertisements

Here comes everybody: The Web and Social Action

17 Sep

On Friday, September 17th, the bloggers behind Publish First.Ask Later hit the streets of New York to interview several willing and unsuspecting participants. We asked questions regarding the effect of social media, it’s impact on politics, and how technology influences the way we view information.

What blog are you waiting for?

14 Sep

The power of blogging is vast. This is because blogging is no longer something that is done and followed by high school nerds debating about chess strategies. Blogging is vast in numbers, numbering in the thousands on a daily level and covers every possible topic one can imagine from gossip, fashion and celebrity to feminism, law literature and media. If you crave it, most likely there’s a blog out there on it. Blogging has the potential to exhibit to the rest of the world a microcosm of insight that individuals normally may not have access too. Having no limitations, it transcends beyond age, gender race, geographic location or any other barrier one could think of. It captures topics of the mundane as well as captivating. Whatever one’s passion is, it can be discovered in the blogging world. Furthermore, the beauty of blogging is that if one cannot find what they are looking for they can always create it. New blogs spring up on a daily basis touching on issues regarding food, family, pop culture and so on and so fourth. Websites such as WordPress and Tumbler, to name a few, provide individuals a quick and easy method of churning out blogs and getting them out to the world. Not only can be blogs be fun and interesting, but they can also be lucrative. According to the The London Times’ “40 Blogger’s who really count” list Nikki Finke’s deadline.com/hollywood blog recently sold for a rumored $10 million-plus.

However with the large array of information, I find myself asking, is all of this really necessary? Will the quality of my life be improved be following a blog on the do’s and don’ts of celebrity fashion, or what Kanye West did at the MTV music video awards? With the High emphasis on fashion, celebrities and gossip, does blogging really matter? Many would argue yes, and that blogs have both a large adolescent as well as adult following of topics and their popularity is growing every day. Like the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or in this case, one mans trash is another mans blog.

On the other hand, some blogs can be inspiring, even when it comes to fashion. Case in point Gabi Greggs blog also listed in The London Times’ “40 Bloggers who really count“ entitled youngfatandfabulous.com depicts fashion trends for curvy individuals, providing outlets for girls who do not identify at least physically with the Kate Moss’s of the world. Or Naomi Klein’s blog named naomiklein.org, which is also listed writes about issues relating to climate change, globalization, surveillance and Palestine. The power of the blog is monumental and has the potential to influence millions. A popular blog by Michael Arrington called TechCrunch has the potential to virtually make or break a savvy new idea in the technology world. Blogging can also be a source of the latest and most updated information, with information being posted that even mainstream sources have not reported on. But with so many opinions, it can be difficult to differentiate the reality from the fiction. When accessing a blog there is no magical button that filters through the bad and gives you the good. Therefore one is faced with the problem of sifting through the stupid and ridiculous in order to find the interesting and spectacular. Another set-back of blogging is the fact that it deviates from the standard mode of reporting; no longer are individuals doing the research and checking facts, no longer are they attempting to understand the deeper issues at hand. The era of blogging is based upon headlines and gimmicks, anything to score a hit, no pun intended. The advantage to blogging is that truth need not apply.

So what have we learned? We have learned that blogging provides a vast array of knowledge, but we’ve also learned that this vast array can sometimes be at the expense of credibility, where according to the words of Geraldo Rivera there are “Too many writers not enough readers”. The problem with blogging is that some tell it like it is, while others cater to what’s hot and what’s not. All and all I believe the lesson learned is that yes blogging can be a source, both of entertainment and academia, but should be used in conjunction with journals, newspapers and, God forbid, even books.

Whether you’re talking trends or the issue of the Iraq war, blogging is here to stay, at least until something better comes along, Wanna find out what that next best thing is? Check my next blog…. Just kidding