viernes, 25 de marzo de 2011

Internet CENSORSHIP in Cuba

Internet censorship is a subject that really interested me, specially in Cuba . We have talked about it many times in class, so, for my last post, I have decided to investigate further.
It is an indisputable fact that censorship exists, but I found an article in a newspaper whose headline was :  "Cuba will eliminate Internet censorship. " Who will believe such thing?  
After Egypt suffered a total cut of the Internet and cell phones  signal of the, the experts again set eyes on Cuba, which is one of the countries,  with Egypt, China, Arabia, North Korea, Iran and six other Moreover, with most censored websites and use of personal technologies (cell phones, mainly). What’s more, Cuba and North Korea are considered as countries  where the censorship goes futher , according to a study by Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto, which concluded that government control of the network is increasing.
Nowadays, just the 1.6% of the population has Internet access, which is 14 in every 100 citizens. Most of those who have that access are academics, government officials and foreign businessmen, so it appears to be  one of the countries with the lowest rate of connectivity, which  is very limited.

It is a shame to hear what the vice-minister of communications  has recently said : "Restricting access to Internet in Cuba has no political background, but technical. The Castro government's desire is to open access to the general public”. Now it seems to be that the real culprit is the U.S. and its trade embargo, which forced him to use a satellite link, slow and expensive.

However, experts from associations such as Reporters Without Borders say that Internet censorship is it's mostly caused by technical barriers, cuts and constant failures, a very limited access, and of course, unaffordable prices, as happens in Cuba and in almost  all  those countries including Egypt.

The thing that worry the most  is the fact that most of the Cubans do not have full access to the Internet, they can only enter the site to check e-mail (which can be filtered by the government whenever they want) and intranet pages selected by the government .

Of course, the use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter in Cuba is totally zero. Even the few bloggers and journalists have relied on others to upload their material to the Internet. "We never see what we publish on the Internet. We have dictate to some foreign friends through cell phone text messages or in a paper, " once said Yoani Sanchez, a Cuban blogger of 33 years who has become famous for his reports broadcast on the web and that has never seen published, it says it has no access to the Internet for free.

Since 1996  web connection allows only 393 megabytes per second downstream and 209 upstream (a traditional connection is 50 gigabytes).But this could change when a fiber optic cable connecting to 1.600 kilometers Cuba to Venezuela, 3.000 multiplied by the speed of data transmission on the island.
Thus, Cuba could enjoy a bandwidth of 640 gigabytes and give a capacity of 10 million simultaneous phone transmissions, which in turn will lower costs
This system could be operational in July. That's when the Cuban government will ensure that investment in network infrastructure to bring Internet to Cuban homes.
Do you trust?


domingo, 20 de marzo de 2011

The first and third world...

On my last post I talked about the digital divide between generations but... what about the digital divide between("northern countries" and "southern countries";  countries in developing and developed, or any other variant)?

I have read an interesting article from Daniel Becerra which I recommend you to read because it will make you think about the divide in a different way.

Lets thing about a lost tribe of Africa:  What is more new for them: a tractor technology or a computer, if  they  had not seen any of those things in their life?
Is it more useful to learn to drive a tractor (if they did), or a computer (if they had computers, wiring and networking)?
Who would teach them?  Sadly, the general society, among which I include myself, are a real computer illiterate. Are we really going to teach them new technologies ? And, what’s more,  what specific purpose?

I don’t think that people in Africa need to communicate with their friends via Facebook "  when they hardly have time to  greet him. When they finish work, the people gather under a tree and talk about the day's developments. This, in developed and advanced countries, is called "network" .
Who of us will have the nerve to go to one of those tribes and explain how much ICT will  improve their communication?

Furthermore...What education model will they use? Education is a right. But there are so many theories and many models like flies on a sugar cube. What model will "bring" us heralds of the absolute truth, at least next two years? Does ours?
And when we see the picture of education in our countries, the next question come to my mind: Who are we to tell anyone how to raise, when every day, demonstrates that our models do not work?
Finally, for a couple of millennia, we have been trying to evangelize the rest of the world with our values; so we will export our “fantastic model” to those countries. A model  which we will change in five years because it won’t  work or because it won’t be “fashionable”  and the new paradigm will go back to that tree under the one a teacher teaches the children about writing with a stick in the ground, and we will tell him that that is not a good way to educate, and  we will  bring a package of progress that includes the melting of the poles, and training in new technologies: we will donate a computer  that they won’t have where to plug in , and we will say that with those things they will be freer and more developed, like us.

sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011

The need of bridging the gap.

Nowadays, it is clear that  Internet is becoming a part of our daily lives. However, it is producing a gap between generations.
I am especially worry about that gap in the society for the elderly. They  feel appart from society as technology plays a more important place in people's daily life and these people are slowly becoming more distant to increase their communication skills because they can not handle computers.

Internet gives us a better quality of life and makes life easier, so it's not fair that older people can not benefit from these advantages, especially being a collective of a large number of people with health and mobility problems which, unfortunately, are also sometimes victims of isolation and to whom the Internet would be the window to a world full of conveniences.

It is useless to try to find out who the guilty is, because, in my opinion there is no guilty. On the one hand, the elderly have many barriers (economic, physical, mental) so that they associate directly the concept of 'technology' to that of 'complexity’ and decide not to complicate their life, ignoring that they are doing the opposite.
 Changes are hard for everybody, accustomed to a lifestyle without technologies they find it difficult to change their habits now, "if I have ever needed it, now at my age less." But they don’t realize that times changes, and in a globalized world to be connected is essential. Moreover,they feel ashamed to seem useless so they don’t want to know anything about computers and other applications.

About us, we don’t make things easy. How to many of you has your grandmother ever asked to teach her  passing phone numbers to the mobile agenda and have finished desperate for its slowness with a "give it to me grandma and I  will do it"? How do we expect them to learn if we don’t teach them? As they  had  a lot of paciencein the past to teach us walking, writtig or cycling, we should do now the same: they deserve it.

New operating systems, with larger buttons and sliders so you they can see, simple instructions and more hispanicised, massive digital literacy programs and implementation of new technologies for this segment should be created to bring the web to seniors' organizations so that they have more access to information related to projects for the elderly, monitoring, travel etc. 

However, it is also true that more and more older people try to learn and "be fashionable." For example, my grandfather, a retired judge of 80 years, when he won the retirement decided to buy a computer and explore its possibilities. Since then no one is able to separate him from it  and it is he  the one  who taught me. He has found a way to communicate with their children and grandchildren, to spend his free time,  to learn and read the paper without leaving home. For him, being updated is very important today and highlights the importance of adapting to changing times.

To conclude, there are a lot of barriers in society and breaking them down is not an easy task, but it is the only solution to build a bridge to help them get on the digital train before losing it forever.