[As ever, this piece is on the BBC News website, where they called it ‘How Broadband is Changing Africa’, though I think the real message is that a broadband Africa will change the Internet…]
Norman Borlaug, whose work in Mexico and India led to the ‘green revolution’ in agricultural production, died last week and was widely commemorated for his important work.
While the introduction of new crops and the use of irrigation, fertilisers and pesticides certainly enabled us to feed millions of people, the crops were delivered at a price, and we should not forget it and Borlaug’s green revolution, like every revolution, had a negative as well as a positive side.
New farming practices create dependencies on machinery and chemicals, and the the patents that protect genetically modified crops limit the ability of farmers to do things like retain seed from one harvest to plant next year, forcing them instead to buy anew each year.
I was reminded of the debate over the green revolution this week as I stood outside my hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, and watched a work gang lay fibre optic cable in a trench they were laboriously digging with pickaxes on the other side of the busy road.
Continue reading “African Broadband”
[As ever, this can be read on the BBC News website]
President Sarkozy of France recently managed to get his ‘Création et Internet’ law passed by the National Assembly, and if all goes well in the Senate then French internet users will soon find their activities being supervised by HADOPI, the grandly named ‘Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet.’
The rights it is concerned with are not those of ordinary net users but of copyright owners, and especially the large entertainment companies that have lobbied so hard and so successfully for the power to force internet service providers to terminate the accounts of those accused of downloading unlicensed copies of music, films and software.
Once HADOPI is up and running rights holders will be able to go to it with evidence of illegal downloading, and it will issue banning orders to ISPs without any need for tiresome court proceedings.
Continue reading “Access for All”
Here’s what I tagged on del.icio.us between June 25th and June 28th:
The old proverb that ‘a lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on’ has been replaced by one in which the blog post has made the trip before the lie has done up its laces. It is a better world, but it is a different world and those of us who grew up under the old dispensation are challenged.
I wrote a column for the BBC website about my growing despair over the lack of technical understanding among the wider population, and I thought I’d found a hook in the coverage of Sky broadband’s decision to move its customers to Google Mail.
Continue reading “Now the lies are slower than the truth”