Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gates Project 2: Is the future mobile and wireless?

Part of this project is forecasting the future of digital infrastructure in the developing world, because infrastructure will be a limiting factor in any e-advocacy efforts. (ie, if people are connecting and communicating for the purposes of activism, who will they do it?) I've only just begun my research, but it's looking like the future will be mobile and wireless rather than desktop and landline. Do you agree that developing nations will leapfrog the landlined north?

categories: internet activism_, gates project_, the "developing world"_

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In some ways they're already leapfrogging the west by embracing mobile phones so enthusiastically. And as mobile broadband becomes more affordable, Internet access will explode.

Having said that, I worry that this could lead to an impulse to promote policies treating mobile phones as a silver bullet to development. Mobiles have certain strengths and weaknesses. Ask anyone who has tried to use their phone for all of their business needs - email, word processing, creating spreadsheets, etc - and you'll probably find someone who got very frustrated in short order. Here in the north, few of us would throw away our PCs and switch to mobile phones entirely for all of our productivity needs; in the South, we shouldn't expect users to feel that differently.

Different development circumstances require different tools, and mobiles aren't always the answer - just sometimes.
good point, cell phones aren't going to fill all connectivity and productivity needs
interesting - could you please post a key scenario or two where mobiles aaren't the answer?

i know I'm happy to have given up my dependency on the laptop and PDA and for the most part, my mobile - prolly 60% there!
I know that there are times when i am writing an email on my pda and hit the wrong button. The email disappears and more often than not is sent incomplete. So far, I haven't had any major catastrophes from this, but I can imagine an email written in angry haste that should be edited before sending...
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