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Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

Indian electricity sector has problems. We may be able to contribute to a solution

A World Bank Report describes the problems faced by India as it seeks to power its economy to higher performance. What can be done? “Power is a very sensitive issue and it is tough to build consensus around reforms,” Pargal said. “We therefore lay out a menu of options for the government to consider.” Welcoming […]

US experts envisage a gloomy future for Internet; but perhaps they miss the big picture

The New York Times reporter seems to do a better job than the experts queried by the Pew Research Center on foretelling the future on the Internet. Just as important is the kind of changes to the Internet and content that no one seems to have talked about. The experts seem to think of the […]

LIRNEasia 4th Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture generates coverage

This was published in Ceylon Today but they appear to have some kind of lag built into their online publication. So we are sharing the reflective column by Nalaka Gunawardene from his website. Whatever the hazard, early warnings would work well when adequate technological capability combines with proper decision-making and dissemination systems, and prepared communities. […]

Behavioral economics meets demand-side management

We’ve been arguing that electricity is up for a major change and that the change is going to be driven by the infusion of ICTs into all aspects of electricity generation, transmission, distribution and supply. Here’s another example. Hopefully this does not require smart meters and that high consumption devices in our countries can work […]

Foreign ownership v ownership by pension fund?

Ownership matters. That is why we take special precautions when the incumbent telecom operator is owned by the government. There is a tendency for the government to want to look after its creature, even if it means that the “playing field” is tilted against private competitors by the regulator. It’s been a long time since […]

Why big data?

Every time I hear people agonizing over the possible ill effects of big data, I think of Dhaka, a city that is being choked by traffic. We all know that the solutions to transport management are among the most difficult to implement. We know that, in fact, there are no perfect solutions. Public transport is […]

Social media in political campaigns: Do they move votes?

In a recent book chapter Nalaka Gunawardene and Chanuka Wattegama concluded that they had not, at least in Colombo in 2011.* Now the question is being asked again, in social media savvy Indonesia. But do retweets, likes and pageviews translate into support on election day? Conversations that start online radiate beyond the mostly urban, affluent […]

Confused objections to Facebook emotional contagion research

I am puzzled by the predominantly negative reaction to the manipulation of Facebook content, in the recent published research article in the mainstream media (MSM), though perhaps less in blogs and such. It seems to me that MSM’s reaction is hypocritical. They manipulate their content all the time to evoke different emotional responses from their […]

Sri Lanka jumps 41 places in e gov rankings for 2014

I’ve written about the e gov rankings before but in those instances, 2012 and 2010, the direction that Sri Lanka was taking was negative. But this year, miracles have been achieved. Sri Lanka has advanced 41 places in the biannual survey, erasing all the reverses I wrote about. Sri Lanka ranks first in Southern Asia, […]

Saving wireline

It is curious that the ICT4D people still have an affection for wireline, when even in the place where wireline telephony was invented, it has become an endangered technology, kept alive through lobbying and regulation. Sort of like making it mandatory to have at least one petrol/gas station that does not require drivers to pump […]

Myanmar: Hunger for ICT

It has always been the case that the demand for mobile telephony has been greater than envisaged in airconditioned rooms. But in Myanmar, the guys in the AC rooms seem to be thinking it’s going to be massive. Only a tiny number of people in Myanmar have mobile phones. Even fewer have access to the […]

New thinking on regulation

I was of the view that all the innovations in regulation were occurring in the developing world (or by scholars working on developing country regulation). I was wrong. It appears that very interesting work is going on at Harvard, possibly in response to the US crisis in regulation: “Weak capture” (defined as special-interest influence compromising […]

Big data and the delivery of government services

The IDRC Asia Office was kind enough to permit publication of a part of a concept paper I wrote for them. Here is an excerpt: At present, the principal methods for understanding users or demand are quantitative research (representative-sample surveys) and qualitative research. The former is used primarily for understanding “what” questions and the latter […]

Iranian net sophisticates and a refreshingly candid Minister of Culture

I saw first hand the futility of the Mullahs’ efforts to prevent Internet access by Iranian youth when I was in Tehran at the height of the Arab Spring. But what is new is that it’s the Minister of Culture who is highlighting the hypocrisy and futility. According to “The Iran Primer,” a website and […]

Steps to ensure low-cost 24/7 electricity on both sides of the Palk Strait

In all network industries,the core problem is the peak. Peak is what drives investment and costs. But in Sri Lanka, even the valley is becoming a problem. The law of physics require every electron that is produced and distributed over the grid to be also consumed. We lack adequate demand in the middle of the […]

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