Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Monday, November 22, 2004
UN International Year of Microcredit, 2005:
"One key need is to collect and analyse hard data on the state of microfinance: its availability by region, client profiles, and types and quantities of services offered. As part of the Year’s activities, a Data Project will bring together expert statisticians and researchers from the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations, in collaboration with governments and the private sector, to address current data gaps, anticipate future needs, and build agreement on the best way forward for donors, private investors and practitioners. In addition, the “Blue Book” project will seek to identify constraints and opportunities for the promotion of inclusive financial sectors, culminating in recommendations of concrete actions that countries can take to make microfinance an integral part of national financial systems" Ongoing activities, including a planned online marketplace, at http://www.yearofmicrocredit.org
. 8:27:15 AM
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
NetHope procures Eutelsat network:
"Eutelsat, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, announced today that it has been selected by NetHope as a supplier for 2-way satellite broadband connectivity for aid organisations in over 100 locations in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. NetHope is a collaborative organisation formed by the world’s largest humanitarian aid organisations that provides IT equipment and solutions in countries where its members execute their programmes and projects.
Skylogic, a 100 percent broadband affiliate of Eutelsat, based in Turin (Italy) will coordinate logistics, installations, operations, after-sales service, and QoS management for NetHope’s participating member sites in more than 40 countries, from Paraguay to Nepal. From its location in Turin, Skylogic will provide a turnkey broadband access solution to NetHope members through the extensive coverage it can supply through Eutelsat’s fleet of satellites.
The network will use capacity on four satellites and coincides with the commercial entry into service of the African beam on Eutelsat’s recently launched W3A satellite, which is operated through a new IP hub located at Skylogic’s Turin premises. NetHope’s member organisations will also benefit from commercial conditions pre-negotiated with Eutelsat/Skylogic, for broadband 2-way access deployment, as well as project management for the entire rollout and maintenance of their sites for a term of three years." 9:22:50 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Korean Cyworld - commercial blogging: "Cyworld is a popular site that provides personal homepage services. As of yesterday, the site surpassed 10 million members, or more than a quarter of the South Korean population. Within just a few years of launching, it has become an important part of mass culture. Cyworld's main feature is a type of Web log called a "mini hompy," short for mini homepage. Like other blogs, users can create various Web boards, produce online photo albums, and upload other content. Its specialized content includes a "mini room," which users can decorate with items from a cyber shop. Arcade games and music can also be bought to be included in one's hompy. These are bought with acorns, which cost 100 won (9 cents) each. Currently, Cyworld earns about 150 million won a day from acorn sales."
I was a Cyholic: Good description by a young user, with screen shots and insights into the social processes cyworld builds on (vanity, status-seeking, and even the pleasures of being stalked).
A recent essay by Clay Shirky provides a valuable counterpoint. Looking at mailing lists and SlashDot, he notes how a focus on personal computers and individual users obscures what they are used for. Networked computers are less like "boxes" than "doors" into a social space. Simple means and rapid experimentation can create a lot of value. 11:01:31 AM
In some nations, the rise of 'shortgevity': "It's an article of faith among most 21st-century humans that life is getting longer. In the last three decades, the average life span at birth has increased from about 60 years to 67 years worldwide, a remarkable achievement. But in two dozen countries, human life spans are shortening." Article has table of several countries. In US from 1970-2000, L.E. grew from 71.5 to 77.1 years.
"Today illicit drugs and alcoholism are still major social ills in the [former Soviet] region. But the outlook has begun to improve as those countries stabilize socially and economically, though longevity rates have still not returned to their peak levels of the 1980s.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the picture remains alarming. Experts attribute much of the problem to the HIV/AIDS epidemic there, which accounts for 25 million of the 40 million cases of HIV/AIDS in the world. According to the latest United Nations Human Development Report, life expectancy in Zimbabwe plummeted from 56 years in 1970-75 to just 33.1 today. Zambia went from 49.7 years to 32.4 in the same period, Lesotho from 49.5 to 35.1, and Botswana from 56.1 to 39.7. ..
Every year of life expectancy gained is estimated to raise per capita gross domestic product in a country by about 4 percent. That's prompted some researchers to question whether development aid to Africa, only about 10 percent of which is aimed at improving health, is being properly spent. It's in everyone's interest "to overcome what I call the 'longevity divide,' " Dr. Butler says. While the per capita GDPs of sub- Saharan countries have not dipped as dramatically as their longevity rates, that measure can be deceiving, Hill says. The deaths of young adults have reduced the labor force, but that has allowed survivors to pick up extra work and boost their own earnings. Thus, the fall in per capita GDP doesn't look so bad." 12:19:55 AM
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Caught in the Net: Maldives Repression
: "Late this summer, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom employed an extraordinary tactic to quell a two-day pro-democracy uprising in his small Indian Ocean nation: He completely cut off Internet access and text messaging via cell phone, apparently to prevent activists from contacting press organizations and others outside the islands. Gayoom has ruled the Maldives since 1978, and his cabinet said the decision reflected “patience, wisdom, and leadership.” Free-speech advocates called the move irresponsible and unprecedented. There was one exception to Gayoom’s Internet ban—his personal Web site remained up and running, with regular updates during the 48-hour affair. FP
invites readers to suggest incidents in which a government, corporation, or any organization is involved in a unique technological abuse at firstname.lastname@example.org
." 8:42:15 AM
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Suggest an X PRIZE
: "The concept of the [World Technology Network] WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts, procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and .. launch a series of technology prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century." I think I'll suggest a few in sustainable energy, starting with catalysis of cellulose to liquid fuel, efficient electricity storage systems, small-scale low-grade heat to electricity conversion. Desalination and other water purification would be another high-impact sustainability technology. 12:04:10 PM