Digital Divide

  • Casual browsing (more on this below) just brought me to the website of the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada (GSSN). As many other organizations of all kinds, in the USA and elsewhere, they are, as clearly stated in their official Application for Employment: an equal opportunity employer. All applications for employment will be considered without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, citizenship, disability or marital status.
  • (This is the second and last part (the first is here) of the report by Lucia Mazzoni about computer science and education in Sierra Leone. Paragraphs in bold starting with my name are my own comments, added later.) The priests in Sierra Leone who asked me to help them with their computers were sometimes victims of the lack of Internet access mentioned in the first part, which didn’t allow them to download better programs or software updates that would make those computer run better.
  • (this is a reformatted version of a proposal I submitted to the Gdansk Agenda website in September 2011) According to a survey published in December 2011 from the EU statistical agency, more than 100 million EU citizens have never surfed the Web. That’s why one of the goal of the Gdansk Agenda is digital inclusion. When I put that survey side by side with the crisis Europe is going through, it seems evident to me that both simple ECDL-style teaching on how to use computers and the Internet and bringing broadband everywhere are absolutely unsufficient to achieve digital inclusion.
  • Several sessions and seminars of the 2011 European Open Days (*) have covered the theme of how to bring broadband connectivity to every European citizen. According to several Open Days panelists, when scarcely populated and possibly rugged rural areas get fast, reliable and affordable non-stop access to online services: innovative small and medium businesses can start and prosper locally doctors and other professionals are more likely to remain (or arrive!
  • (this page is part of my 2011 report on “Open Data: Emerging trends, issues and best practices”. Please follow that link to reach the Introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to also check the notes for readers! of the initial report of the same project, “Open Data, Open Society”) After the October 2010 Government Open Source Conference in Portland, John Moore reported the surprise, among participants, that people were not demanding more open data, that the push had not yet come from public.
  • (this page is part of my 2011 report on “Open Data: Emerging trends, issues and best practices”. Please follow that link to reach the Introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to also check the notes for readers! of the initial report of the same project, “Open Data, Open Society”) In practice, public data can be opened at affordable costs, in a useful and easily usable way, only if it is in digital format.
  • More or less consciously, many people still see Africa as one vast totally offline wilderness, half jungle, half desert, but that’s not the whole story. During a discussion about software and hardware costs, Clayton, a software engineer, noted that it would be wrong to think that computer are still off limits for most Africans: _Things are changing rapidly in Africa. Take Kenya for example where 10 years ago, hardly anyone had a personal computer except the expat population, and a few of the ultra-rich.
  • Many non-profit, non government organizations (NGO), including those who try to express dissent in authoritarian regimes, use popular software like Windows or Microsoft Office for their activities without paying for a regular license, because they have no money. Therefore, charging these organizations for software piracy is an effective way to shut down disturbing voices. They are violating laws, after all. According to the New York Times, “Microsoft is vastly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent.
  • In 2010 the Labour Party of Mauritius adopted the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project as a national program in their National Election Manifesto. The Labour Party is a member of Alliance de l’Avenir, the coalition that won the 2010 general elections in Mauritius. Even the Alliance program (also available on Scribd) mentions the OLPC, first in the Executive Brief (page 9): _We will introduce the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program and each Lower IV student (16-17 years old) will get one laptop.