Saturday, November 22, 2003

World Summit on the Information Society

The announcement of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) says that the Summit will be held from 10 to 12 December in Geneva, with more than 6,000 delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and the media. The second phase will be held in Tunisia in 2005.

The Summit is being held under the patronage of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and is being organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN's specialized agency for telecommunications.

The draft action plan of the Summit proposes a commitment to connect all of the world's villages with information and communication technologies by 2015, and to connect at least half the world's inhabitants by that date.

I think that we should be able to do a lot better than that, but I admit that it is a challenge to organize and train enough people to make it happen. It is obviously not enough to install the hardware. We must at least create health, education, and other programs, and train the villagers to install, maintain, and administer their own equipment. Actually, we want to do much more than that. We want to tap the talent and special knowledge in the villages so that the villagers can deslign and roll out programs better suited to their needs than those designed by outsiders.

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