Monday, February 02, 2009

The Filipino and Tomorrow’s Digital Experience

The recent World Economic Forum had a session, “The Next Digital Experience [video],” hosted by well respected blogger and TechCruch Founder, Mike Arrignton. The panel included Chad Hurley of YouTube, Mark Zuckerber of Facebook, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, Hamid Akhavan of T-Mobile International, Eric Clemens, Wharton, and Craig Mundie of Microsoft. They talked about the future of mobile and the next digital networking experience.

In that session, Hamid Akhavan of T-Mobile International was quoted by Businessweek:

3.2 billion people have mobile phones. Most widely held electronic device. 5% only are browser capable for an internet experience. In Western Europe, with net-capable phones, data traffic is rising very fast. (emphasis mine)

Another interesting point was raised by Clemens about the difference between push and pull technologies (I paraphrase):
“There is a huge difference between a push or pull. If someone pushes information about a restaurant and I can’t even use my phone because I’m being bombarded with information, that’s the wrong model. ...If I want to know where my friends eat in Chicago and I pull that in, that’s incredibly useful.”

This is existing right now. Mobile Phone carriers not just Globe and Smart are constantly bombarding users via SMS about advertising. That is Push. Clearly the twitter model of “asking” (Pull) of seeking out the data for you. That’s the less intrusive. It is clearly the model that users like. This is something mobile phone companies and technologists need to think about and integrate.

Clearly as much as the Internet has transformed the world, it continues to be a nascent technology. It is a nascent industry. Everything is still growing.

The infrastructure of the Network which includes everything from cellular technology, wireless internet to the wired lines, cable, DSL and other similar technologies, are clearly owned by the telecommunications companies and thus is under the NTC. Making this affordable, reliable, and ensuring Network Neutrality for not just government but every Filipino is a mandate that the NTC needs to uphold.

How do you do broadband anyway? Perhaps we ought to take a page from Korea. How do you broadband? Korea’s Communications Commission answer:
“...the newest move by Korea’s Communication Commission is planning on a countrywide broadband upgrade. The country already has one of the best broadband penetration and speed in the world and they plan that by 2012 it will be getting a whole lot better. How much better you ask – well try a 10 fold increase in speed.”

It isn’t just with Korea. Obama intends to build a broadband infrastructure to rival the US Interstate System:
President-elect Barack Obama vows to "renew our information superhighway" as part of a massive plan to invest in public infrastructure and stimulate America's flagging economy. Obama's immediate plans include large federal investments to bring computers and Internet connections to school districts and the health care industry.

As the world will be a digital tomorrow, a broadband infrastructure whether built by Private or Public enterprise must be coupled with intensive teaching and training to get people to see beyond mere friendster and mere yahoo email as the Internet. There is a need to show Filipinos the deeper magic of the Internet. To leverage social networking platforms like Twitter and Plurk, to journey past and see what technology, entertainment and design has to offer. To see the wonders of the Web and the beauty of its underlying infrastructure and culture. There is a clear and present need to ensure Filipinos can leverage the Internet and this must be coupled with a codified “Internet rights.”

We need to be able to bring Filipinos onto the greater web and if Cellular technology has shown us, it is through rapid expansion in the mobile space that this needs to be done. The first personal computer of tomorrow’s Filipino ought to be on the mobile space and we must participate in ideas like Rethinking the Internet.

Eric Clemens says, dogs instantly know what’s in a room. That’s the power of their senses. Clemens says that with the amount of information we’re having, that’s available right now, we’re like dogs. Mobile and the Network is giving us hyper-reality. He makes a note that Young Wallstreet bankers on two sides complete deals on Facebook because they were old college roommates. This is something that Future Filipinos need to get into. This hyper-reality, this hyper access to information is astounding.

There is a push at the United Nations to make Internet access, a human right. If that should happen, the National Telecommunications Commission must be one of those agencies to ensure that right. It can guarantee it by ensuring Net Neutrality. The NTC can ensure fair and equal and healthy competition between Telecommunication companies, exist. [Though the CIA factbook says there are over Five Million Filipinos online, the idea that the Internet is a right must be something lawmakers must debate today. If we believe that it is a human right, I believe that Lawmakers also need to codify Blogger’s rights, as well as Coder’s rights and wrap it as “Internet rights.” ]

The Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 has defined what data is, how it is received and transmitted. It defined how to secure it, explicitly. But the Law is silent on “Internet rights.”

The CIA factbook says there are over Five Million Filipinos online, and as this number is growing, we now have 5 million people whose rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression is left ambiguous. The idea that the Internet is a right has merit. It must be something lawmakers must debate today. Tomorrow, we will clearly need an understanding of what rights do we have online. If we believe that it is a human right, I believe that Lawmakers also need to codify Blogger’s rights, as well as Coder’s rights and wrap it as “Internet rights.”

There is also the question that the Internet will become a utility one day. It is not a farfetched idea. It is an idea that has merit and the infrastructure will still fall under the watchful eye of the NTC.

This post is a snippet and preview for a forthcoming position paper about the NTC's Online Licensing proposal.

This post is licensed:
Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Philippines.

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