Appropriate Technology

Technology is complicated, and in relation to other aspects of daily life in Vanuatu, it’s expensive. But its value to society is indisputable.

Without a doubt, the Government needs to develop a clear, comprehensive policy concerning use of technology within its own sphere of operation, and on the national level as well. But that will take time, and there’s much that can be done in the mean time.

The benefits of telecoms market liberalisation are undeniable, but as the Pacific Institute of Public Policy rightly pointed out in its baseline study of social effects of the opening of the mobile market, more needs to be done. Uptake for business purposes is still low. Secondary infrastructure needs work as well, and if we want to see the same growth in Internet as we’ve seen in mobile use, we’re going to have to take steps to make it possible.

[This week’s Communications column for the Vanuatu Independent.]

One of the joys of working in IT is the endless tide of change that seems to run through it. The stereotypical geek – and I confess I bear a strong resemblance to him – is constantly, almost pathologically curious. Like mynah birds we flit from one shiny piece of technology to the next, changing our song moment by moment.

Some may find it dizzying. Just as they get used to one set of jargon terms, the lexicon changes and their stuttering education in techno-Babel starts anew.

IT professionals typically work with about a six month window before the bleeding-edge products they’re using slip down the next rung of the ladder of obsolescence. After about two years, they’ve dropped away completely.

Governments and other institutions often find this a constant source of aggravation. It takes so long to develop standards that they’re often outdated even before the testing, analysis and verification is complete.

But their mistake is one of emphasis….

Read more “Appropriate Technology”