Monday, October 22, 2007

TNT in TnT: Web 2.0 for Trinbago Development

As a newbie blogger, my awareness of the amount of Trinidad and Tobago online content has been increasing, particularly so, of course, with respect to blogs. Incidentally, the first TNT in this posting title is not an abbreviation for ‘dynamite’ but my own abbreviation for ‘The New Technologies’ and their attendant applications -or apps, as techies refer to them. Such apps and activities include web site feeds, wikis, podcasting, blogging (albeit blogging has been around for some time but has grown in extent and influence in the past few years) and the use of social network sites like Facebook, MySpace and Second Life. Of course, there has been an explosive global growth of such technologies and activities within recent years, so perhaps my TNT abbreviation is right on the mark.

All such technologies fall into what has been coined as Web 2.0. This term refers to, and is inclusive of, all the aforementioned technologies and applications that facilitate greater personalisation and collaboration among web users. The ‘2.0’ descriptor is reflective of this development as a perceived second generation or evolutionary phase of Internet development, emergent after the success of the dot.com companies came to their demise via the tech bubble bust in the early 2000s.

One trait that has long been applied to the Internet is its ability or potential to be a societal leveler: to increase the possibilities of everyone with access to an Internet connection by increasing their ability to acquire and share ideas and knowledge, express opinion, and facilitate the formation of social networks and participation in collaborative projects. One notable book greatly endorsing this Internet leveling theory is The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.

Many people, global organizations such as the UN (United Nations) and its satellite agencies, governments and notable individuals such as Nichloas Negroponte the co-founder of MIT’s (Massachusett's Institute of Technology) Media Lab, who has launched the global initiative of One Laptop per Child (OPLC), have accepted or acknowledged this power of the Internet and have sought ways to facilitate and keep track of its growth.

One such measure is the ITU’s (International Telecommunication Union) DOI (Digital Opportunity Index) which measures countries' information technology and telephony access for their citizens. The DOI 2005/6 report saw South Korea leading the rest of the world (181 countries were surveyed) as the most ‘wired’ nation, where about 94% of its internet users have access to broadband: a result of the government of South Korea’s determined effort of using technology as a development strategy for the country. Trinidad and Tobago ranked 59th on the report.

If Web 2.0 can live up to its touted benefits from social networking, its usage among our citizens could conceivably have some positive effects on our social conditions. If in addition to exchanging photos and posting video of friends and relatives or of de lime at de fete on YouTube and Flickr, more of us can exchange and collaborate to come up with solutions or ideas to address some community needs or aspirations: we could perhaps better see and enjoy the beauty in empowering ourselves.

An increasing number and diversity of local bloggers and podcasters is an increased potential of citizen journalists that can provide more news, information and opinion on issues. Increased possibilities and abilities via technology should probably and logically lead to more citizen action with more pressure and increased official and unofficial stratagems for rating accountability in the public and private sector.

Like South Korea however, we still need to rely on the government to provide or facilitate the improvement of our info-telecom infrastructure. Government too, should provide improved and increased e-services through the various ministries, which would be a virtual decentralisation of government services that should somewhat alleviate -but not remove-the need for the long ignored calls for the actual physical decentralisation of such services from Port of Spain. The government can take example of all the mas camp web sites, where people can purchase Carnival costumes from anywhere in the world, long in advance of their arrival for the national fete.

One key aspect about development and people’s faith of achieving success in their own country is the actual or perceived level of opportunities or possibilities. When people see or perceive these as existing, increased or increasing for themselves, they can and do begin to dream, with dreams increasing in size in direct proportion to the actual or perceived level of opportunities or possibilities. We must use Web 2.0 though to bolster and complement and not to supplant our actual face-to-face connections. Technology can be used not just as a means to widen our familial and social connections but also as a means to deepen them: to establish more understanding among us in our increasingly busy and distracted lives.

Technology is not just about 'a rise of the machines.' It is a rise of the people; but it is not a panacea. Nonetheless, the evidence is there that the information age has been and is a boon to the lives of many across the globe. Surely, this is no different for us in our country.

Let us ride this second tech wave, Web 2.0, toward a shore of our collective increased opportunities and benefits. As great as riding the waves at Maracas or Toco can be, they can never provide a chance of making our future look so good.

See my blogrolls and site links in the sidebar.

Allyuh.com, is a local online content blog. It also rates local blogs and maintains a listing of the top ten local blogs (I hope with time this blog will appear on that list).

Caribbean Connector A blog by a Trinbagonian librarian: this is a good source for further information on Web 2.0. applications.

Learn more about computer technology and activity in Trnidad and Tobago at the TTCS (Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society) website (they also have a blog to click to on their site).

Mark Lyndersay’s BitDepth column in the Trinidad Guardian (Tuesdays), is also a good source for technology news and information. His columns can also be found on his web site at Lyndersay Digital.

Finally, there is the ICTS (Information and Communications Technology Society) of Trinidad and Tobago, which caters to professional development of IT professionals in the country.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information, we will add this story to our blog, as we have a audience in this sector that loves reading like this” web development

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