Helani was in the first panel titled "Alphabet Soup" which introduced concepts of Internet Governance and the connection between IG and media development.
Above is a Sinhala article in Raavaya which addresses the following questions: What rules of thumb or filters may an editor or equivalent apply to choose between different intellectuals seeking opportunities to communicate to the public? The public’s attention is limited; and so is the “speaking time” that could be offered. Giving time on TV/radio or space in an online or print publication necessarily involves judgment. One putative intellectual gets the opportunity; another does not. How should that judgment be exercised?
We talk about time-bound opportunities that open up for effective policy intervention: policy windows. Similar “windows” open up in public discourse. One needs to grab them before they disappear. Of course, one can seek to expand and shape the window as well. Few days back, an online publication carried a few pieces on public intellectuals.
Based on work done on electronic trading in ASEAN and extrapolation from the online freelancing research, I contributed some thoughts on budget proposals to create a government-run platform to collect taxes. That has been picked up in subsequent articles. In the face of government highhandedness, global e-commerce giants have in the past opted not to enter Sri Lanka, and experts such as LIRNEasia Chairman Professor Rohan Samarajiva have expressed concerns that new interference would lead to those operating in Sri Lanka to leave the country as well. However, some platforms such as Airbnb have a history of collecting taxation from customers and providing them to governments, if requested. Officials admitted that many budget accommodation units are not eligible to pay taxes, which would require amendments to existing legislation.
Helani Galpaya, along with MIDO’s research team, released in Yangon the results of the second teleuse survey conducted in Myanmar earlier in 2016. The first coverage: People would only enjoy the fruits of digital development when the country overcame difficulties in promoting digital literacy skills, the survey said. According to the survey, 78 per cent of mobile handsets had access to internet, similar to the smartphone usage in the US. Mobile phone ownership had increased from 57 per cent in February 2015 to 83 per cent, it said. Almost every household owned more than two SIM cards while about 61 per cent of households had TV and only 16 per cent had a radio.
As can be seen, the language used by Sujata Gamage in her op ed on the education proposal in the 2017 Budget Speech was very nuanced and academic. But the problem was that politicians tend not to read to the end, choosing to form their opinion from the headline. In this instance, the headline was “Can tabs do what PCs or bricks could not do for education?” But looking at that headline, I do not see anything near the kind of attack common in many of mine. It after all ends with a question mark.
The Tamil mediasphere in Sri Lanka has been over-determined by the political. Now that we’re reverting to a more normal country, it’s time for economic issues to be covered. A group of volunteers including LIRNEasia’s Suthaharan Perampalan assembled a group of eager Tamil media personnel for training program today. I was one of the speakers. Here are the slides I prepared but was not able to use because the projector went on the blink.
I spoke today at a workshop for media personnel organized by the Ministry of Disaster Management (DM). I just looked to see if I could link to the workshop description on the web. Apparently not. Guess that confirms what I said about the need for the DM Ministry and the DM Center to change the way they think about the web and associated new media. My slideset is here.
Yesterday, a report entitled Rebuilding Public Trust was launched at a meeting attended by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Media Minister and his Deputy. I contributed to the report, primarily on policy and regulatory recommendations, not all of which were accepted, as is normal. My responses will be published shortly. But I was pleased that the report made several references to LIRNEasia research, below being one example. LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP research in Sri Lanka and other emerging markets in Asia have proved useful in making government understand the significance of telecom, especially the mobile, at the Bottom of the Pyramid.
It’s interesting that Viet Nam’s Communist Party does not prohibit social media unlike its counterpart in China: In January Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam’s prime minister, told senior members of the Communist Party that it was “impossible” to block social media, and that the government should make more effort to put out “correct” information through them. Vietnam’s 40m internet-users live in one of the better-connected countries in South-East Asia. Around 45% of Vietnamese are online (roughly the same proportion as in China). In the region, only Malaysia and Singapore have higher penetration rates. The use of social media has leapt—by two-fifths in the past year alone, according to one estimate.
Parvez Iftikhar will be amused that I am proposing a fund, after objecting to his favorite Universal Service Fund. But that is how the policy game gets played. We look at something that does not work at all or produces more bad outcomes than good (government-owned telcos with universal service obligations in the old days; government-owned media organizations now) and propose a solution that will reduce the harm (universal service fund for telecom; public media content fund for media). Then we see how the solution works and propose sunsetting it or shutting it down if it has been hijacked by nefarious interests. Deng Xiao Ping called this crossing the river by feeling the stones.
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 readers/viewers/listeners. The difference is that conducting research on resultant emotional changes on MSM is not as easy as on Facebook. For example, magazines have used different cover images, darkening or lightening faces and so.
The research conducted by Rajat Kathuria and Sugandha Srivastav continues to generate more publicity. Indians are falling in love with mobile apps. The average smartphone user in the country has 17 apps, says a recent study released by Google Mobile Planet. The number is close to the global average of 25 (South Korea leads with 41 apps—mostly games—per smartphone). India’s app economy is estimated to be worth Rs 974 crore in 2014, and is expected to grow 66 percent to Rs 1,621 crore in 2015.
New public policy issues get resolved depending on which analogy wins. In one of the most significant lower-court decisions (this is likely to be appealed up) in recent times, the newspaper analogy won over the town square analogy. If this holds, Google and search engines become the new media. An interesting thought in light of the decline of old media. They move over to the content side, leaving only the telcos on the conduit side.
An old folk tale describes a tired traveler in the desert, where the nights are cold. His camel is outside the tent. The camel wants the warmth of the tent. The traveler permits him to bring in the snout. By morning, the camel is in the tent and the traveler outside.
Few days back I was asked to speak on the above subject at a workshop held at the Center for European Political Studies in Brussels. I discussed what effects the continuing efforts by ETNO and likeminded groups to introduce some form of government mandated rent extraction from Over the Top players such as Google and Facebook are likely to have on small alternative media using the Internet as a workaround or simply as a low-entry-cost publishing opportunity. The slideset that I used is Samarajiva_CEPS_Mar13.