Thursday, April 2, 2009

Information and Communication Technology

by Michael Young

The digital revolution is upon us. Alberto Masetti-Zannini talks about the roles and issues he has with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) throughout his article. His article touches on some main points about the issues that are upon us in bridging that gap between developed and non-developed countries. We are all a part of this revolution that puts endless knowledge and information at our finger tips and only a click away. But how do we aid those who are not able to keep up with this revolution for any number of reasons: cost, infrastructure, or literacy. Zannini elaborates his issues with NGOs and weather they are really exploiting the full potential of the technology, or using it as a campaigning or marketing device. Are these the only issues with the aid form NGOs, or are there more that isn’t really talked about?

This information and communication technology revolution is here. Web 2.0 is the new generation of tools that allow us to do so many things, in particular the two way interactions that it is built for. The open source technology and information is there for everyone with the ability to have access to that internet. No other tool in the world allows for an individual to have the access to any and all information in front of them. But what good is all this information if they have no access to it? Is technology the answer to helping these countries and are NGOs that answer?

NGOs have the ability to fund, bring in technology, or infrastructure to these rural areas that have no such thing. This technology can bring endless opportunities for these communities that have had no such technology before. These opportunities, as sited in the article, a fisherman in India is now able to check market prices for their goods using a mobile phone that would not otherwise be available to him. Such projects as the $100 laptop that have already begin where they can bring this technology into their homes. This technology can do so much for a child by just allowing them to have access to information that they never had the ability to access before. Other NGO projects such as the Intel billion dollar project have already been implemented. This project is bringing computers and infrastructure to the corners of the world that have never had this technology before. This allows for an endless of opportunities for these villages and their kids that have had no such formal education. While all this is seems to be perfect there are always underlining issues.

Zannini’s main issue with NGOs is that he believes they are not using this ability to bring this technology and internet to these communities to their full potential. Also claiming that they are using or approaching this situation or responsibilities as a campaign or marketing deceive. Do NGOs see this as an opportunity to get their product out there and not really thinking about helping these countries? Maybe, but there are many other underlining issues are present and aren’t talked about. Such issues can be the limitations that the state government puts on these NGOs and what they can do. Some concern is made to this technology being a negative impact on their culture.

There is no one correct answer to solving the problems of the undeveloped country. NGOs do have the ability and responsibility to help with this. Weather they are promoting their product or helping these communities they are still providing them with something they have never had access to before. The information and communication technology seems to be the quick and best fit to giving them the tools to be more productive, better education, and possibly lead to a better life.

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