2012 January


I’ve written about this earlier, but a more fleshed out argument is in my LBO column. The story was about an award. But what I noticed was the role of telephones in the story. The award winning innovation is not just one new thing; it is a collection of process improvements. Critical elements involve phones as easy ways of contacting mothers on the one hand and health workers on the other.
For those who believe in bringing the dead back to life: Even better, imagine if you could email a letter to the post office, pay for the stamp online, and never set foot outside of your door? You could send mail digitally, with minimal fuss. People still like receiving letters, if it wasn’t such a pain sending them we might do it more. All of these are simple innovations which barely even amount to innovation at all. They would just bring the post office up to the operating level of a modern teenager.
In a recent in-house piece I did on LIRNEasia’s work on inclusive innovation with emphasis on agriculture, I concluded that inclusive development occurs when “the necessary condition of high, sustained growth above 7 percent year-on-year and the sufficient condition of a majority of the country’s work force being engaged in high-growth sectors are satisfied.” Innovations that contribute to inclusive development qualified as inclusive. In most developing countries, a high proportion of the work force is engaged in agriculture. Therefore, one cannot envisage inclusive development occurring without agriculture being transformed from a laggard sector to a leading growth sector. In this context, Bill Gates’s thinking on innovation is highly relevant to any discussion of inclusive innovation: We can help poor farmers sustainably increase their productivity so they can feed themselves and their families.
Bangladesh is on the cusp of transformative change. No certainty. It could miss the bus. Because of years of work on family planning, child health and womens’ education, its fertility rates are declining and the country is just entering the golden period in terms of demography: declining child dependency; increases in elderly dependency not yet started; and a bulge of unencumbered working-age people. But dividends come with dangers: if the demographic bulge finds no opportunities for making a living, they will rise in rebellion (e.
Though not part of LIRNEasia’s funded research, we have kept an eye on, and engaged with, issues related to services trade liberalization, partly because ICTs form a critical element of international services trade and the success of telecom reform exemplifies what can be achieved by liberalization of Mode 3 trade in services. In debates around the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, I recall someone raising the question as to why I was not advocated the optimal solution of multilateral agreements to liberalize trade. I answered “Doha is dead and SAARC is comatose, this is the best we got.” Now finally it appears that the death of Doha is being officially recognized. Contrary to the declarations made at the G20 summit meetings in earlier years, the world leaders seem to have finally given up on the possibility of concluding the trade talks within the parameters on which they had launched them as a single undertaking.
Strong sales for Nokia’s Lumia smartphone line based on Windows OS has changed perceptions: Analysts are expecting Nokia to rapidly reassert its relevance in the smartphone market, which it had largely to itself before the 2007 introduction of Apple’s first iPhone. Over the next 12 months, Nokia will expand its smartphone market share more than sixfold, to 12.2 percent, overtaking Research in Motion, the makers of the BlackBerry, according to I.D.C.
In his paper, author Martin Hilbert presents a conceptual framework to classify the different definitions of the digital divide by using the theory on diffusion of innovation. The author equates the diffusion of ICT to the diffusion of Innovation which is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the members of a social network. Figure 1 is an illustration of the diffusion of innovation.  The growth in adoption starts slowly at first and then accelerates toward the middle of the process and gradually tapers off as the number of non-adopters shrink. The exact curve depends the characteristics of the nodes of the social network.
The NYT piece is focused on the intellectual property issues. But what I sense is the coming of age of 3D printing. As I wrote in a column in November, people will soon be able to download files of physical objects and print them out at home. Although being able to print out a new mug or toothbrush at home sounds magical, I said that there would surely be copyright problems that occur as a result of this technology’s going mainstream. This theory struck oil this week when the Pirate Bay, a notorious peer-to-peer file-sharing Web site that is a source of free copyrighted music and movies, said it was creating a new download section on its site that would enable people to freely take files a 3-D printer can recreate into physical things.
We have always emphasized that telecom is a complementary input: Does not solve problems by itself, but makes solutions possible; Multiplies the effects of interventions. Here, in Bill Gates’ thoughtful year-end message, is a great illustration. He is talking about the first winner of a Gates Foundation innovation award, a doctor from Bangladesh: In 2009, Dr. Hossain was assigned to two districts where immunization rates were 67 and 60 percent, respectively. In 2010, they were 85 and 79 percent.
Sounds so 1960s, but . . . This should change investment risk calculations, in Africa for now. But how broad will the ripples run?
Gregory Mankiw is a gutsy economist. He defended outsourcing while still serving in the Bush administration. He is a also a good economist. He could make a living on textbooks alone. He is now advising Mitt Romney as he campaigns for the presidency.
Free WiFi and access to internet is getting popular everywhere. Some commercial entities and traditional retailers such as Starbucks and McDonalds discovered a long time ago that free internet attracts customers.This week I came across two news on this...
Free WiFi and access to internet is getting popular everywhere. Some commercial entities and traditional retailers such as Starbucks and McDonalds discovered a long time ago that free internet attracts customers.This week I came across two news on this...
It has been an unfortunate fact that Sri Lanka and India have signed many agreements that have not been implemented. This caused me to write a column some years back entitled “An MOU to implement MOUs.”. The one difference that I see in the short LBO report on cooperation between India and Sri Lanka on telecom is that the word MOU has been replaced by agreement. But I hope I am wrong and that there will be real implementation.
For what LIRNEasia does, scholarly publishing with slow-paced peer review and print-on-paper publishing has not been the best fit. Our 2006 work got published in a 2008 book and our 2008 survey data got published in a special issue of a journal in 2011. But the question of assessing and ensuring quality is ever present and the natural answer is peer review. With peer review, delay is part of the package. Plus it can be a conservative force.
In their paper ‘The end of the net as we know it? Deep packet inspection and internet Governance‘, authors Ralf Bendrath and Milton Mueller explore the ways in which internet governance is responding to DPI. At present, the structure and dynamics of the internet is such that the intelligence is at the edge of the network, with only the header of the IP packet being referred to as it traverses the network. With DPI, service providers can scan the payload segment of the packet in real-time and handle in differently, based on pattern recognition. The article refers to 3 arguments that supports the internet’s end-to-end structure: Without DPI With DPI Technological Flexibility Efficient, Scalable Additional overheads Political Freedom Content is not a barrier Invasion of privacy, Opportunities for regulations on censorship Economical Openness Multiple ISPs compete on an equal playing field Increases the network’s ability to discriminate     The authors model a framework for technology-aware policy analysis (based on the ACI, Actor-Centered Institutionalism framework) to understand the dynamics between actors, interests, political interactions, influence of institutions etc.