Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Committee to Protect Bloggers

'Closing the digital divide is one of the most important things we could do that would have the quickest results in alleviating poverty, which is inexcusable in the kind of economy we’re experiencing in the 21st century.'

President Clinton made this statement in April of 2000. The solution to poverty, he was saying, is to increase people’s access to the Internet and to computer technology.

So, poverty can be alleviated by giving technology to the less fortunate? Broadband DSL and high speed Internet will not pay the electric bill or watch the kids while parents are at work.
Is the Internet and the bridging of the digital disconnect a true panacea for poverty’s eradication?

No but there are soem differences being made.

I was fascinated by a project by the folks at the Blogswana and the idea is that they will train 20 university students from Botswana in journalism and blogging, then those students will go into the field once a month and interview some one who does not have access to the web or blogging.

The interview will be turned into a blog post for the interviewee's blog, the interviewer will have a blog of their own as well, and the most recent posts from the blogs written by the 20 students will be aggregated onto a central site. Comments left by users will be delivered to the interviewee next month and their answers will be posted back on the blog.

The AIDS angle is that all the parties involved will be people who have been impacted by AIDS in one way or the other, though that won't be the central topic of the interviews.
The instigators of this project hope that it will be a pilot for many others based on the principal of overcoming the digital divide and doing citizen journalism by actually visiting and talking to people who are not online.

Technological change has, of course, always been a central engine of economic growth, but what is significant about the past decade is the acceleration in the pace of change and, as more and more countries have made efforts to improve their macroeconomic and policy environments, technology and technological innovation appear to have entered a 'golden age', a time when they are emerging as the key drivers of growth and development.

There are, to be sure, still many basic battles to be won in the developing world, addressing fundamental issues of development, from reducing poverty levels and the incidence of disease to enhancing opportunity and the quality of life for large segments of the world’s population.

But, as economists are prone to point out, what matters most is what happens ‘at the margin,’ and at the margin technologies today - particularly information and communications technologies (ICT) - are increasingly playing the central catalytic role in pushing the development process forward.

Mankind is facing some tough challenges in this modern era. We have progressed
at amazing speed through the technological age, harnessing the forces of nature to produce marvels that were not dreamed of a mere century ago.

But the progress has come at a price.

While some of us enjoy material comforts that were once reserved for royalty, much of the rest of the world is living in poverty. The global population has grown exponentially, putting enormous pressure on earth's resources, and we now have evidence that the very climate has been altered in a few short decades of industrial development.

We concentrate too much on technology.

For example, when we talk about pollution, and what causes it, what we're really talking about is people; about human behavior. Thus the real challenge is not what we should do about the pollution, but what we should do about our fellow man; what should be done about the fact that so few people care.

We have to look at and come straight to grips with the hard reality of an uninvolved, disconnected society, starting right where people live, at the grass-roots – on the streets, in the parks, the plazas, and in the neighborhoods where we make our homes.

What can one person do to change the world? Can you personally make a difference in your community? In your neighborhood?

Damn right!

The triumph of the industrial economy is the fall of community. But the more freedom that individuals aquire, the more requirement there is for a community.

What we are missing is a new social, philosophical, and political map and the organizations to lead it forward. The Committee to Protect Bloggers and their supporters are a good example. More here


Blogger Curt Hopkins said...

Thanks brother. Kind words. Hope we can live up to them. Then again, we're relying on the people with a vested interest in these issues and they are very motivated.

8:25 PM, April 12, 2006  

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