I have been engaged on a short term Nigeria-based consultancy on the role ICTs 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.
Getting data for national ICT diffusion is relatively easy as they are in fact multiple
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
According to many observers, the rapid diffusion of new ICTs such as the Internet and social media has empowered people all around the globe. Today, social media users, for example, have direct access to the public sphere and can thus launch campaigns to sway public opinion. These new channels have given voice to millions of people who previously could not be part of open discussions on issues that affected their lives.
Governments, national and subnational, are also users of new ICT platforms that in most cases are beyond their own jurisdictions and do not require passports. Governments thus need to have defined strategies to promote the use of ICT and social media in policy and decision-making processes and foster the delivery of public services for all.
For most people, including many well-known economists, the 2007 global economic crisis was a rude awakening: It seemed to have come out of nowhere, but it certainly managed to bring deep pain to billions of people – and pockets. Soon thereafter, calls to revisit Marx’s theory of capitalism became frequent from both left and right. After all, it seemed he had a plausible explanation for what had just happened.
Nine years later we all can easily agree that capitalism has not collapsed – at least not yet. But has it reach its limits? The latest book by Paul Mason tries to answer this question. And in simple terms his answer is yes. Indeed, he argues that capitalism unique adaptation skills to almost any situation have now stalled. And the rapid development of new technologies have opened the
Nowadays, the diffusion pace of technologies on a global scale is unprecedented. This is true for Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) best represented by the Internet (and all its newer platforms) and mobile technologies. Most will also agree that technologies somehow play a decisive role in fostering economic development and economic growth. While that might be true in some contexts, was this always the case?
If we look back in history at the European expansion that started in the XIX Century, can we make the same argument? Did the European colonization of Africa and Asia of that time, which heavily relied on technological innovations and advantages, inevitably brought economic development to the colonies?
This is in part the question Headrick tries to answer in his 1988.
The first time I run into the notion of digital dividends was at the end of the last century. At the time, the first dot-com boom still running at full steam, totally unaware of the looming crash. Building on the hype of the new technologies and of the Internet in particular, the G-8 launched the Digital Opportunity Task Force (aka DOT Force) in July of 2000 with the primary purpose of closing the global digital divide and universally spreading digital dividends to all. The DOT Force was not limited to G-8 governments. By design, it also included governments from developing countries, the private sector, and representatives from civil society, thus foreshadowing what is now known as a multi-stakeholder approach.
The final report of the DOT Force was approved at the G-8 summit
A recent article by one of its lead developers argues that Bitcoin, defined as an experiment, has utterly failed. While the initial concept was to develop a form of digital money that was completely decentralized and autonomous from any bank or institution, today Bitcoin is controlled by a few people. In addition, Bitcoin technology has now reached serious limitations that will prevent it from expanding in the near future. Is this really the case?
Created in late 2008 right after the bank bailouts by a still anonymous geek that used a Japanese-like name as an alias, Bitcoin has quickly gone from geekdom to stardom. The number of books published on the subject has grown exponentially since 2014. At the same time, banks and other financial institutions are now seriously thinking about adopting
Nowadays, autonomous vehicles are all the rage. We even hear that perhaps in a few years cars will make human drivers obsolete. Instead, roads and highways will be filled with vehicles that drive themselves and carry humans as passengers only. We are also informed that such vehicles will increase safety, at least for accidents triggered by human error (or over the limit alcohol consumption!). And the same will also happen with airplanes, space exploration, manufacturing, retail, war, you name it.
Autonomy seen in this context results from the advances of both automation and robotics. Automation is not new as it has been taking place since the 1st Industrial Revolution. Back then, mechanical automation was king and queen and, in no small extent, facilitated large-scale manufacturing first,
What role if any did non-Western nations played in the emergence of the West as a dominant historical force? This seems to be the key question the comprehensive book by Anievas and NIsancioglu attempts to answer. The problem is undoubtedly closely related to that of the emergence of capitalism in Western Europe and the role it played in vanquishing other regions of the world, the part that, we should not forget, is still continuing today.
According to the authors, existing socio-economic and historical research seems to agree that the emergence of the West was primarily the result of internal factors, with the UK taking the lead in the late 18th century, soon to be followed by other Western European countries in the 19th century.
However, our authors argue, all these perspectives take
Snowden’s revelations had put into evidence the seemingly strong link between new technologies such as the Internet and the capacity of some states to harness it as a tool for massive surveillance in real time. As some had argued, these revelations were not that shocking after all as they only confirmed what many have been discussing for a few years but had no real evidence in hand. Now they do.
But is this link inherent to the new technologies? In other words, does the rapid development of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) necessarily has a positive correlation with surveillance? By the way, these sort of questions also relates to the common notion out there that technologies are “neutral” by default. But we will deal with this issue on a later post.
In any event,