Overselling the Web? Development and the Internet

Charles Kenny PSUlib HF5548.32 .K466 2006

I am inspired by many of Kenny's more recent works (Upside of Down, for example). This book is earlier, based on research between 1995 and 2005, and ignores counterexamples to his thesis, which is that the internet worsens opportunities for lesser developed countries. He has a good point about diversion of development dollars to internet infrastructure (fiber, routing, etc.). That should be driven by operating revenues, let the few (or many) internet users vote with their limited money.

The citations have errors. Example page 125, cite 25 is "Wheeler et al. 2001, which is not in the author-ordered citation list on page 150. Wheeler is co-author of some of the World Bank reports cited with the organization as the author.

Kenny focuses a lot on version churn by Microsoft, but there are few direct mentions of F/OSS alternatives.

Kenny focuses on patent barriers, and the costs to the developing world, and the barriers created by WPO and TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). While these are barriers for selling products to the developed world, they do not need to be barriers to trade flows between developing economies.

Kenny writes of abysmally low bandwidth to Africa. 249 Mbps (p67) ... in 1999! ... compared to the developed world, (45,459 Mbps for Europe). Africa may always have a tiny fraction of the bandwidth that the first world uses for Netflix, social networking, and online gaming, but that tiny fraction of an incredibly fast growing resource can support education, research, eTourism, and plenty of new applications developed by and for LDC entrepreneurs.

I had hoped to read about the (perhaps tiny) fraction of the internet that is done right, that LDC individuals develop and use to help their countries. Success in the west in non-rivalrous goods is not failure for the rest. Artificial rivalrous goods (like patents) are indeed a major problem for the developing world ... and also 99% of the non-patent-enforcing citizens of the developed world. I am not rich because Bill Gates is (unless he spends all his wealth to help others, which makes my world better).

OversellingWeb (last edited 2017-03-08 01:23:40 by KeithLofstrom)