Justice Technology

A Mental Excerise in Distraction

Have you ever had one of those times where someone says something to you and it starts your head to flying around like some kind of rollercoaster on crack.

Well, in an effort to still my head I will not write about anything that is making it go crazy today and focus on something entirely unrelated.

Instead, you get a talk about cell phones and how useful they are to the poor.

I was doing a little research into my topic I wrote about the other day, and I found an interesting article talking about the advantages of cell phones in developing countries. The article said that it was a waste to give developing countries computers if most of the people are illiterate.

Which is a good reason for places like Argentina to use the $100 computer in their school programs.

But the article pointed out that countries that improve their cell phone infrastructure, and have multiple carriers are increasing their GDP. I think the statistic is that if you increase a developing countries number of cell phones per 100 people by 10 phones, it increases that countries GDP by 0.6 percent.

So I started thinking on this. Is there a level that a country must be at before a computer becomes a useful asset? What good is a computer anyway if you can’t get to the internet, and you can’t get to the internet by wired connections in remote parts of these developing nations. But cell phones, and cell phone networks solve these problems. Using GSM based modems you can connect to the internet. And cell phone networks are easier to deploy in regions where terrain makes it difficult to run land-lines. And, you can manufacture cell phones that will last in dirty, rugged environments for fairly cheap when you take away the color screen, and bells and whistles.

So, now my goals of helping to change peoples thinking about the digital divide now becomes multi-tiered. Soon I will sit down and compile this research, and thought into a paper to send people. I think that would be good. At least it would make me feel better about being an intellectual bum ever since I graduated.