Web 2.0 Expansion Sparks Questions Of Developing Country Participation 11/02/2008 by Kaitlin Mara for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By Kaitlin Mara For the first time in world history, there is a technology used more in the developing world than in the developed, said Marc Laperrouza, a senior research associate at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to attendees of the Lift Conference, an annual event in Geneva that brings together thinkers from a variety of fields to discuss “the challenges and opportunities of technology in society.” The technology, he said, is mobile phones, and developing countries currently own 59 percent of them. Laperrouza predicted that the devices would become not only the way people communicate with each other, but also the way that they access the Internet, especially in the developing world where computers are out of budget for many people. Laperrouza also predicted there would be a “war for telecommunications standards that will be waged in Asia,” especially China. The Chinese no longer wish to pay royalties for a licence to use the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) and have been developing their own technical standard for use within homemade mobile handsets. This creation of a new proprietary technology for mobile phones could be a significant move if successful, as a full 25 percent of the 500 million new mobile phone customers added to the market last year are Chinese and China Mobile, already the world’s largest telecommunication company, is gaining between 5 and 6 million new customers a month, according to Laperrouza. Later in the day, Bill Thompson and Philippa Martin-King, both participants in an online platform for the discussion of solutions to climate change, said that technical standards, more than legislation, are likely to be the way markets take shape in the future. Gen Kenai, business developer for the open-source company Mozilla, spoke about the difficulty of expanding the open source movement into Asia. Technology news service CNet asked in January 2008 “where is Asia’s contribution to open source?” said Kenai, and added that when Linus Torvald, who started the open source operating system Linux, was interviewed about Asia, he listed the major barriers to participation as culture, language, and economic ability to participate. Culturally, said Kenai, the style of confrontation inherent to open source software development in the West is a less common mode of interaction in Asia. Second, the de facto language in most open source projects is English. Lastly, Kenai said, the depth of participation is more difficult when you have a population that may not have the economic means to purchase their own computers or the freedom to choose the kinds of software they use. For example, in Korea, all secure transactions must run on Microsoft Windows and be sent over Internet Explorer, so there is a huge barrier to entry for not only Mozilla but Apple and other developers as well. However, there have been some stunning examples of success, most notably Dzongkha Linux, an operating system developed for the country Bhutan, in the local language of Bhutanese. The system was built in 13 months with only $80,000 US dollars, said Kenai, and as such is an example of the power and potential of non-proprietary software systems to personalise development in poorer countries or for smaller markets. Technology and Social Change Nobel Prize winner and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Andy Reisinger also spoke at the event, reiterating the importance of attention to climate change and saying that a portfolio of technologies and behavioural changes were needed to reduce the growth in greenhouse emissions. Tom Taylor, a business consultant on social software, had an idea of how to encourage people to make behavioural changes and think innovatively about living greener lives. Taylor said that the same techniques used in consumer marketing and the same activities espoused by social networking sites could be harnessed to encourage green living. He said that the site “Green Thing” www.dothegreenthing.com was created to do just that: a place where positive reinforcement from peers and the ability to be creative by submitting audio files and new ideas for green actions would engage people with environmental issues. The eventual goal is to integrate “all of Web 2.0” into the Green Thing, so that users could blog about their activities or link to the group from their profiles on social networks like Facebook. Kaitlin Mara may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Web 2.0 Expansion Sparks Questions Of Developing Country Participation" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.