Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

Posts Tagged ‘development

Google and Microsoft in Uganda

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Google has launched “Google Trader” as part of its new SMS offering in Uganda – a service to facilitate marketplace transactions, particularly in agriculture.

Not surprisingly, a quick scan of Microsoft’s efforts in Africa reveals a slightly different focus – refurbishment and provisioning of PCs (particularly in Uganda), training for the government sector, work with international institutions like the UNHCR.

One can’t help but notice the superficial but potentially telling differences, and ask whether they’re reflective of the larger Google v. Microsoft story, which itself reflects deeper questions about the evolution of the IT. A scan of Google’s blog surfaces several references to volunteer efforts, to training local developers, to initiatives that embed in the daily cultural and economic milieu. Microsoft’s stories seem…well, larger (e.g., a new software package for an country’s educational sector), institutional, more “traditional” in terms of both technology and aid. There’s no dispute over the good, even the necessity of both approaches. But one can’t help but wonder if their evolution will tell a larger story about how the world will compute in the next fifty years.

Written by Mark

August 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Microsoft beats the pirates in China

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From the back pages of the Washington Post:  this story about the sentencing of a gang selling $2 billion of counterfeit Microsoft software in Guangdong.

This 2007 Fortune article details Microsoft’s comeback in China earlier this decade, through, among other things, the establishment of a research center, support for development initiatives, and consultation with Chinese officials to guide investment in local companies. In turn, the Chinese government began to back and enforce anti-piracy measures. This is a decent turn of events for Microsoft:  I can attest to the fact that just a decade ago, you could purchase pirated copies of Windows or Office for a few bucks in Hong Kong.

The quid-pro-quo between a company’s market success and its support for development initiatives is also playing out in Saudi Arabia, with Cisco, Ericsson, and Huawei. It’ll be interesting to watch how efforts like these compare to those mediated by the U.S. government, like the Bush Administration’s Digital Freedom Initiative.

Written by Mark

January 8, 2009 at 1:52 am

Posted in Business & Economy

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Watch this space – more academic work coming in this area

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According to Wired’s Danger Room, a scholar from MIT has been awarded Pentagon funding to study “cyber international relations.” Professor Choucri’s academic focus has included development and international political economy (as an aside, some of my own research in the latter topic inspired this blog). She also holds the first patent in the history of MIT from its School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and worked with the UN’s World Summit on Information Technology. 

Looking forward to seeing what comes out of this work. As recently as three years ago, it was difficult to find international relations scholars writing extensively about the Internet – or at least to find them amid the flood of research in terrorism and security issues.

Written by Mark

December 29, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Random

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Arabian Bytes

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BusinessWeek has a short but intriguing brief on Cisco’s foray into Saudi Arabia. As a consultant quoted in the piece states, technology companies can be thought leaders in weaving ICT into the development plans of countries like Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the article comments on the competition Cisco faces from the likes of Ericsson and Huawei. Unanswered:  how would “thought leadership” differ from Cisco to Huawei to Ericsson, and what would that mean for Saudi Arabia’s positioning in the Internet age?

Written by Mark

November 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm