Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Open production: I talked with Brewster Kahle briefly in 2001, and got the idea that the degree of collaboration is a spectrum. At one end is the conventional commitment to play a role in a team; at the other is the incidental activity that leaves a trace that can be datamined in an implicit collaboration. At the implicit end, we see Google mining the links I make as though I were collaborating with all other web authors; and Amazon mines my purchases and makes recommendations on my behalf to similar buyers. Howard Rheingold sees this as part of a broader pattern, and ends up sounding like Buckminster Fuller:
Besides Google and Amazon, "there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.
And maybe this isn't just in software production. .. The dogma is that the two major means of organizing for economic production are the market and the firm. But [Yale law professor] Yochai Benkler uses open source as an example of peer-to-peer production, which he thinks may be pointing toward a third means of organizing for production.
There's also Wikipedia [the online encyclopedia written by volunteers]. It has 500,000 articles in 50 languages at virtually no cost, vs. Encyclopedia Britannica spending millions of dollars and they have 50,000 articles. .. [Rheingold also mentions unliscenced wireless "open" spectrum] ..
If I was a Nokia or a Hewlett-Packard, I would take a fraction of what I'm spending on those buildings full of expensive people and give out a whole bunch of prototypes to a whole bunch of 15-year-olds and have contracts with them where you can observe their behavior in an ethical way and enable them to suggest innovations, and give them some reasonable small reward for that. And once in a while, you're going to make a billion dollars off it." 11:44:56 PM
UNV Online Volunteering
: UN Volunteers has an online program: "Volunteers from all over the world are helping organizations that serve communities in developing countries -- but without leaving their own communities. These online volunteers translate documents, write articles, research data, build web sites, mentor young people, design logos, and engage in many other projects to benefit organizations serving people in the developing world. Online volunteers are volunteers without frontiers." 2:11:32 PM
Microsoft OS for third world: "Microsoft is set to roll-out a 'no-frills', low-cost version of its Windows XP operating system for third world markets. The new OS, Windows XP Starter Edition, offers lower-resolution graphics and restricts the ability to connect computers via a network. Also, the OS can only run three programmes at any one time. The stripped-down edition of the operating system is an attempt to undercut the spread of Linux in developing countries."
Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and 2 other countries are in the rollout. "As part of the program, certain schools in 67 developing nations can qualify for free upgrades to the regular Windows software and for copies of Microsoft Office that cost $2.50. "
Gartner released a report on it, approving the concept, but criticizing certain limitations and the lack of an upgrade path to the full XP editions. "Microsoft would continue to gather feedback from consumers over the next 12 months." 2:02:26 PM
(Almost) Instant Cash Transfer with Mobile Phones
: "last week Philippines' largest mobile phone company, Smart Communications, launched a cash transfer service that uses text messaging to speed up the process. Overseas workers still have to go to the bank to initiate the transfer, but the recipients in the Philippines get a text message on their phone notifying them that they have immediate access to the cash, which is stored in their phone's "electronic wallet," a feature included in all 16 million Smart Communications subscribersâ019 accounts. The recipients can then use their Smart Money debit cards to withdraw the cash from ATMs. An International Herald Tribune article on this story has some interesting details about why this could be a very successful service: Eight million Filipinos work overseas and send $7.6 billion dollars home every year. The average income of a Filipino is under $1000 a year. Nevertheless, 30 percent of the country's 84 million residents have a mobile phone. Most people use SMS because it is much cheaper than making voice calls. All this adds up to a potentially huge income opportunity for Smart Communications, which is charging about 4.5 cents per transaction" 7:59:58 AM