Blockchain Technology and Human Development

The blockchain tsunami has reached the shores of all seven continents in the world.  It would be fair to say most Capitals have been flooded, slowly coming to terms with the potential impact of the new technology. Cryptography, hashing, Merkle trees, peer-to-peer networks, distributed trust and governance, proof of work and stake algorithms, and smart contracts are a few of the buzzwords that many if not most are still trying to fully grasp. They come with the territory.

I started to follow Bitcoin from a distance in 2011. At the time, the cryptocurrency was closely associated with the Dark Web and dubious financial transactions. Two years later, blockchain technology (BCT) started to gain ground as perhaps the most relevant and innovative technology supporting cryptocurrencies. The creation

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Internet Access and Human Development

A recent news article nicely summarized efforts by Silicon Valley tech giants to close the so-called digital divide in developing countries. Not that this kind of initiatives is new – not at all. In fact, a plethora of projects and programs with a similar goal have been launched since the mid-1990s, with mixed results at best. Twenty plus years later, close to 60% of the world’s population is still not connected to the Internet.  And Internet access growth rates for most countries are now converging around 7% per annum, down from double digits in previous years.1 While mobiles have spread faster in the Global South, the latest GSMA report suggests that growth rates in the sector are also slowing down due to the socioeconomic barriers this group of countries face.

One common trait these

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. While mobiles have spread faster in the Global South, the latest GSMA report suggests that growth rates in the sector are also slowing down due to the socioeconomic barriers this group of countries face.

25 Years of the Sustainable Development Networking Programme, SDNP

The Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) was a UNDP global program that ran between 1992 and 2004.  SDNP’s core goal was to enhance access to sustainable development information on a multi-stakeholder basis using new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Its scope of work was driven by Agenda 21, the sustainable development agenda endorsed by UN member countries at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Agenda 21 was composed of forty chapters, organized under four separate headings. The very last chapter of the agenda called for increased access to information for decision-making as one of the means of implementation of the agenda. Adding to its approach the targets of chapters 27 (strengthening non-government organizations) and 37 (capacity building in developing

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Global Allocation of IP Addresses

Akami recently published its latest State of the Internet report for the 3rd quarter of 2016. As a content delivery provider, Akamai has access to real-time data on the status of Internet traffic and even monitors Internet attacks by country. Using primary data, Akamai reports summarize Internet traffic by quarter for over 150 countries. The report’s main focus is on broadband but also includes an analysis of security related events.1 The company produces a separate report on Internet security.

Data Collected

The report’s data comes from the company’s support network which comprises over 800 million IPv4 addresses representing over a billion Internet users. The latter is about 25% of all global users, according to the latest statistics((There are now 4.1 billion people using the Internet

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. The company produces a separate report on Internet security.

Towards a Philosophy of Technology

Written back in 1984, the content of Albert Borgmann’s book loudly resonates today.

Borgmann argues that contemporary life is shaped by technology that stamps its imprint all over the place, and can even define its whole character. However, such a pattern is not usually evident nor always utterly dominant as technology has to compete with other factors while simultaneously threatening to obliterate some aspects of our lives.

The book is an attempt to study these phenomena which demand a robust analytical framework. The first and shorter part of the books attempts to develop this. Part 2 considers the character of technology or what the author calls the pattern of technology and its central traits in modern society. And section 3 of the book deals with the issue of reforming technology

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Internet and more in Guyana

The first time I ever visited Guyana was in July 1997. Back then, I was working for UNDP, running a global project called the Sustainable Development sdnpguyanaNetworking Programme, SDNP, whose primary goal was to promote access to information via the use of new technologies such as the Internet. At the time, the Internet was still in its early stages, and not many people were aware of the internetwork, never mind using it. My visit, supported by both colleges and competent Guyanese experts, was to launch the first ever public (and free!) Internet center in the country. Part of the job was to get a dedicated connection between the site, which was hosted by UNDP Guyana but had a separate and independent entrance, and the local ISP, GTT.

All required equipment had previously been purchased in the US

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Blockchain and the Future of Society

Alongside artificial intelligence and robotics, Blockchain technology is enjoying widespread popularity around the globe. The surrounding hype seems to increase by the minute. Pundits and supporters see a plethora of applications for the technology not limited just to the financial sector. But to the average person, Blockchain technology is mystifying, given its technical complexity. If you do not know what a nonce is, then you are not as cool as those who do.

blockchain2There are now plenty of books, papers and newspaper articles dealing with Blockchain. One of them, by Don Tapscott and his son, caught my attention. This book is a sound attempt to make a case for Blockchain as a disruptive technology that will impact most aspects of our lives – and not just financial services as first Read More

Uber in Abuja

Last March, Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria, became the 400th city where Uber has launched operations. However, it was not the first city in the country as Uber started operations in Lagos 18 months earlier.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Abuja for business reasons. I spent there almost two weeks. The hotel the company booked for me is about 20 kilometers (or 12.5 miles) from their local office which, by coincidence, is in the same co-working hub as the local Uber office.

uber-abujaNow, Abuja has plenty of local taxis. But one problem foreign visitors face when hailing them is the lack of meters. This just means that one has to negotiate and agree with the driver on the cost of the ride. If one does not know the city, then charges can vary substantially. Being that as it may, the company enticed

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Status of ICT diffusion in Nigeria

I have been engaged on a short term Nigeria-based consultancy on the role ICTs1 Just in case, ICTs = Information and Communication Technologies. could play in promoting citizen engagement in public policy and decision-making processes – or what some call e-participation.

Part of the job requires research on the rate of ICT diffusion in the country at the state level as the project being designed will operate at the subnational level. For our purposes, ICTs include both Internet and mobile phone, and the use of social media platforms by local stakeholders. The usual expectation is that the highest levels of poverty and overall socioeconomic inequality are accompanied by lower ICT diffusion rates.nigeriaregions

Getting data for national ICT diffusion is relatively easy as they are in fact multiple

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. Just in case, ICTs = Information and Communication Technologies.

Theories of the Mobile Internet: Book Review

There is indeed no scarcity when it comes to books and articles dealing with the so-called mobile revolution. While most present the now usual techno-utopian perspective, only a few offer an adequate analytical framework to try to explain the rapid evolution and diffusion of mobile technologies around the world. The recent book by Herman et al. is an excellent example of the latter.

The book, a collection of 13 articles from different authors, explores in detail the dynamics of the mobile Internet which is becoming the dominant form of access to the network of networks. It tackles the issue by posing two relevant and related questions: how does the mobile Internet creates “zones of connectivity that are fluid, transportable, and meaningful?” (pg. 2). And second, what are the immobility structures

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