I’ve been arguing for the last few weeks that what’s needed most for Vanuatu is to invest significant time and effort into the creation of a new crop of technically savvy individuals who can help Vanuatu bridge the growing gap between life in the information age and life as we’ve always known it in the islands.
There’s a pressing need for people to assist with this transition. The barriers have begun to fall that once allowed life in the village to remain consistent, with change seeping in slowly and in tiny doses. Very soon, most everyone in Vanuatu will have access to mobile telephony. We’re already hearing stories about Tannese in Middle Bush bringing their mobile to the garden with them, just in case someone wants to reach them.
Only weeks ago, nobody really got fussed about waiting days or even weeks to hear a bit of news. But now that we can actually get it, we want information immediately. It’s a universal human trait to want to keep caught up on the latest. In the past people here have been content to let information and gossip arrive at its own pace, confident at least that nobody was getting the jump on anyone else. But now, someone who owns a mobile phone holds a distinct advantage over those without. In this culture – and most others – knowledge is power, and in Vanuatu, a new arms race has begun.