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Re: Framework Notes

From: Stephane Boyera <boyera@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 05 Jul 2008 22:51:22 +0200
Message-ID: <486FDECA.2050800@w3.org>
To: Renjish Kumar <renjish.kumar@gmail.com>
Cc: public-mw4d@w3.org

Hi Renjish,

> Thanks for your detailed reply. I believe that we agree on all points, 
> but my concern was mainly on the direction of the discussions in the 
> forum. 
  My bad, re-reading your original post, i understand that i 
mis-interpreted it !

 > The inititatives list is also
> attached with this mail for reference.

Thanks for that.
I think it is indeed really important to define the objectives of this 
group and its scope to see how it fits with the links you are providing.
I knew most of these references and in my view there are nothing which 
is similar to my view of the mission of this group.

> Let me first emphasize on the sentence you mentioned on barriers (in 
> bold the emphasis is mine). My question to you is: Can we see the 
> barriers and solutions for mobile phones in isolation? Wouldn't an ICT 
> related initiative covering similar issues for Fixed Internet cover most 
> of the barriers and challenges that when added to the perspectives from 
> mobile phones will give us a holistic picture and thereby find the right 
> solution? Wouldn't that give us a head-start on really understanding the 
> ground realities and challenges, not only from a technology view-point, 
> but also from a socio-economic-regulatory perspective? 

That's an interesting debate.
I agree with you that mobile phones can be considered as a tool, or a 
branch of the ICT4D domain in general. How ICT-based services can 
improve people lives, and how to deliver these services are general 
problems, and could be considered as a whole.
We launched this group with a complete different approach in mind: 
Mobile phones are in the field, in the pocket of people, and there is a 
potential to exploit them and to provide services. Let's see how.
Of course, some topics we will consider are more general than mobile 
phones, but most of them imho will be related to the platform specificities.
I'm more in favor of practical vision and actions. Mobile phones are 
already deployed, let's see how we can take advantage of this fact. in 
5-10 years, low-cost laptops might be there, perfect then we will see 
what we could do to build on this fact. People have been working in 
ICT4D since 20 years, without real effect imho. I see now a real 
opportunity for things to change with mobile phones, and i believe that 
focusing on that platform might have more impact. Rhere are already lots 
of organization looking at ICT4D in general since long time, and i would 
be afraid that if we want to engage in a similar directino, we would not 
bring anything really new. At the opposite, i hope that people from 
these organizations (let's name some of them UNDP, TWB infodev, ...) 
would join us here, and bring their global knowledge in this specific 

> I have attached some of the initiatives with this mail, that I can think 
> of (including some that you already mentioned) for reference. In 
> addition to this, industry players have their internal initiatives as 
> they plan to tap the opportunities. 

I've been working on launching this initiative since about 2 years, and 
i've been looking around to see what's going on at different places. My 
conclusion is that everybody is working in its corner:
NGOs are working in the field, have an incredible expertise and 
knowledge about what works, what doesn't, what is relevant what is not, 
and so on... but they have nothing really to exploit this knowledge: no 
technical expertise to be able to really setup and run theirown service, 
no or very few system to use easily (look at the success of e.g. 
frontlineSMS), and they obviously have difficulties to voice their 
problems, or the problems technologies and existing systems have at a 
level that could have an impact.
International Organization are developping multi-millions dollars 
programs and frameworks, but well given that they are missing this 
feedback from the field, the full potential of these framework are 
rarely exploited.
Industry players, they are focusing on technology, technology and 
technology. an example: i was at 3GSM Africa last year. The topic was 
specifically about connecting rural communities... but discussions were 
about to know if CDMA is better than 3g or WIMAX. Is it really the 
problem ?
So i believe that all these parties have to talk together and take into 
account the real needs and objectives from the field. I hope that this 
group will be a step in that direction, gathering people from different 
background to share a common vision on what is really needed.

> I wanted to make my point that the moment we talk about developing 
> market, somehow all our assumptions follow a stereotype that "Developing 
> market=rural=illiterate=poor". This is not always true. This is 
> over-simplification. 

Well i fully agree with you that there are different segments in 
societies of Developing Countries. Some of the segments are very close 
to western markets.
I understand what you are saying, and i understand also what you mean by 
starting on the third phase.
That said, i thought that the title of the group was defining its 
target. For me, economic and social development clearly applies to poor 
unprivileged populations (this is not really limited ot developing 
countries in fact), which have in average a far higher rate of 
illiteracy. So again, i believed that this group was looking at 
providing ICT services on mobile phones to rural communities and 
underprivileged populations who don't have access to services like 
helth, banking system, ...

I would be happy to see what are opinions of other people on the target 
of the group ?
Stephane Boyera		stephane@w3.org
W3C				+33 (0) 4 92 38 78 34
BP 93				fax: +33 (0) 4 92 38 78 22
F-06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex,		
Received on Sunday, 6 July 2008 11:04:35 UTC

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