[DC3] Thinking from the declaration... Was an Internet for the poor vs. empowering the people

Coenraad Loubser coenraad at wish.org.za
Sun Nov 20 19:52:13 UTC 2016


*How do we measure and avoid failure?*

1. Besides the handful of great projects that some of us are involved in
and has seen, we've all seen the failure:

a) regulation/government mandated "white elephant" computer labs and
satellite connections that mostly go unused, that big providers have
supplied to meet universal service license obligations
b) or those installed by mismanaged universal service funds
c) or those installed as "corporate social investment" schemes, for tax
incentives
d) or those installed purely for marketing - a "do good" story for some
photos and a presentation or two to score points with a government or
regulator
e) or those installed because they are what someone thought is needed
f) Large telco networks with services priced beyond the usablity of the
majority of the population covered

2. I'm sure there are many reasons -

a) No community consultation and buy-in
b) no co-creation
c) lack of skills
d) lack of access / guidance / materials / tangible benefits to community
e) lack of supporting infrastructure
f) lack of corporate incentive
g) ufavorable social environment - eg. unsafe, abused, misused
h) unprofitable (in the case of big telco network / extension thereof)

3. And then there are the potentials solutions:

a) Starting with community education / making the community request / ask
for it / earn it
b) establishing a long term relationship with the community
c) empowering the community to build- and maintain it themselves
d) ensuring utility by guiding the community to on-line solutions to their
everyday problems
 - and a shared place where common problems and solutions can be listed
e) future tax incentives to corporates to make it worth as a long term
investment

These are just off the top of my head. Coudn't such a declaration reference
places to find common problems and solutions, and reference research on
failed programmes and the critical parts of successful implementations -
based on research that will be taken seriously.

4) Imagine we could create an atmosphere where it is not seen as insulting
to ask real questions at a presentation, or where it's not even necessary -
where it is common sense what questions should be answered. An environment
where no presentation that doesn't answer certain basic quetions, would
ever be taken seriously. Perhaps a list of questions that could and should
be answered in any presentation - or metrics that should be included, such
as:

a) Live data and contact people on the ground - How many people are
connected to it right now?
b) Let's do a video call to certain community members right now, and lets
see the network stats.
c) How long have they been connected?
d) How much has been spent on the network?
e) How was the hardware obtained?
f) Is vendor agnosticism promoted?
g) Ongoing costs - what does running the operation cost and where does the
funding come from?
h) How long before funding runs out / before it is self sustaining?
i) What is the life expectancy of the hardware and technology used?
j) Does any institution which stands to economically benefit from the
network, excercise control over training, initiation or landing page
materials?
k) Is any privileged network metrics available? Ie. if Google or Facebook
builds a network, even if they fund it - the data they collect should be in
the public domain, because measurable knowledge about our access patterns
is a public resource that if not made avaiable neutrally can benefit those
with access to it disproportionately and lead to growing inequity.

*Universal set of metrics?*

Shouldn't we perhaps aim toward seeing if there is a universal set of
metrics or measurable parameters, that if a adhered to, significantly
improves the probablity of success or the benefit to the community? Metrics
such as cost of access being under a certain percentage of the average
lowest income, or eqating to the cost of certain foodstuffs, or the lowest
tolerable contention ratio for certain applications, or the number of years
required for a community to be able to reap certain types of benefits - and
how these may differ form country to country or community type to community
type... how many usefully identifiable kinds of communities are there?
Rural, urban, rural agricultural, rural migratory, ...

Even though it may seem obvious what we want to achieve - perhaps it is
important to check to see if all items on our wishlists are universally
applicable. Ie.
How do we meaure success or failure? What's is the ultimate goal? More
responsible citizens? More communicative neigbourly citizens? Better
consumers? Better producers? More independence? More decentralization of
the market? More street wise citizenry? Happier taxpayers? More successufl
anarchists? A balance between a new global culture without it being at the
expense of local traditions? Whichever way, how do we know that everything
we are striving towards is unversally applicable to all these purposes?

Is connectivity ultimately purely in aid of a new supplementary global
identity for us all? Or is it simply an amplifier and multiplier - of both
good and bad things? And who are we to judge what is good and what is bad?
What is the smallest component of each, and at what point does it creep
into society - and isn't that the point where it is easiest to influence
it? And if it is, is someone smarter than us doing just that?

Think about how those who want to tell us what we should and shouldn't do
started out, and who gave them their say and power... and what authority
and incentive and purpose do they have doing what they are trying to?

Anyways, just all some ideas thought out loud that I hope will give someone
something to think about.

Coenraad Loubser

Wireless Internet Services & Hardware (Pty) Ltd.
210 Long Street, Cape Town, 8001, ZA

Office: +27 21 481 1824
Skype: Coenraad_Loubser
Email: coenraad at wish.org.za
Cell: +27 73 772 1223
Web: http://wish.org.za

-- Spending Money is like watering a plant.

On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 4:06 AM, Nicolás Echániz <nicoechaniz at altermundi.net
> wrote:

> During my participatin in the WEF meeting that I was invited to, I came
> up with this concept that I believe must be a strong point in our
> strugle forward in order to differentiate what we are doing from so many
> other initiatives to "connect the unconnected":
>
> Facebook's Free Basics and Internet planes, Google's Loon project as
> well as many government plans to bring "Internet access" to public
> spaces in poor villages and disadvantaged areas are all initiatives to
> create an Internet for the Poor. One where the people get a second class
> digital citizenship.
>
> On the other hand, we from the community networks movement are
> empowering the people to build meaningful infrastructures that create
> the local portion of the Internet in a manner that is respectful of
> human value and not just motivated by access statistics or profit.
>
>
> I'd like to make this idea part of our Declaration.
>
>
> What do the rest of you think?
>
>
> cheers,
> Nico
>
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> DC3 at listas.altermundi.net
> https://listas.altermundi.net/mailman/listinfo/dc3
>
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