In 2008, Bitcoin was introduced to the world, and still, it is not quiet clear to the lay audience of internet users. In 2010, I had a chance to get Bitcoins for my birthday from my geeky, open source expert friend. I refused them over the traditional paper notebook, as I knew about bitcoins but I didn’t know for sure how could I use them in the rest of Europe where it wasn’t present and developed enough to act. Eight years forward, now I know.
In 2012, I chatted with Mike Hearn, a former BitCoin core developer on the future of the cryptocurrencies and the bitcoin, and back then, he expressed his doubt that there are not many other open source projects with such large social implications such as cryptocurrencies. Especially, Hearn stressed that social scientists have a lot to contribute and collaborate together with computer scientists and IT developers.
The revolutionary power of such technology can be compared with the revolution sparked by the world wide web and the Internet in general. As the Internet can be seen as a mean for sharing information, so blockchain technologies can be seen as a way to introduce the next level: blockchain allows the possibility of sharing digital value. As the Web 2.0 was all in the zeitgeist of social network(ing)/s and Web 3.0 in semantics, the blockchain technologies could be the advent and the rise of the Web 4.0. Blockchain technologies, and more specifically, cryptocurrencies, present a disruptive and revolutionary technology, which will have major impacts on multiple aspects of our lives, impacting industries, organizations, and governments.
Cryptocurrencies are limited entries in consensus-decentralized databases secured by strong cryptography. One of the most popular, BitCoin is p2p, decentralized digital currency, with no central bank or authority. Instead, it relies on collaborating of independent computers sharing copies of a set of data. The concept of a digital currency is very appealing and real innovation on many levels: it is open source, decentralized, distributed, transparent system and peer-authenticated ledger. However, the digital assets exchanges services need to work on trust and feeling that is a safe technology. Many digital assets exchange platforms and wallet services need to earn users’ trust and gain reputation. In any of the transactions, and it won’t be easy in the current crypto craze ecosystem. While there is a massive potential for returns and transparency and decentralization, on the other side, there are potential mismanagement, increased volatility, the security issues, and the education as a big part before the average people use this technology, as well as continuous work the user experience.
Cryptocurrencies are relatively new and disruptive technologies in terms of social, economic and technological consequences. We can only anticipate the dynamics and consequences of the blockchain technologies in a variety of disciplines settings. They are still somehow geeky and not understood by most people; banks, governments and many companies need to be aware of its importance. There are potential applications for blockchains in the sharing economy, the financial services companies, big banks (currently experimenting by JP Morgan, the Bank of England, and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), stock trading; then, handling digital identity across social networks and online services, handling of voting (already experimenting by the open source project Sovereign using blockchains), governance, protection of intellectual property, Internet of Things (IoT) technology, in reducing the economic and social inequalities and gaps.
What it needs to be seen in regards to digital media and blockchain is to explore the socio-economic and technological aspects and consequences of decentralized technologies. We are really only just starting to explore the true potential impact of this kind of technology.
To be continued.
Colleagues and I wrote a paper “5G Network Slicing for Digital Inclusion” the 10th IEEE COMSNETS – International Conference on COMmunication Systems & NETworkS, this January in Bengaluru, India. We focused on the societal challenges related to Digital Inclusion. Paper revisits the 5G mobile communication objectives, and adds the demand for 5G network slicing providing free access to information for all. We introduce the Internet light concept of free provision of information in developing economies. In order to ensure net-neutrality, our approch of Internet light provides content type filtering, with free access to text, pictures and local video, and paid access to video, voice, games and other streaming content.
The paper suggests that Internet light for all supports sustainable business operation, as only only 2-2.5% of the available bandwidth is used for free access to information, while more than 97% of the bandwidth are available for commercial business operation. Given the societal advances in digital literacy, digital inclusion and the participation in the digital society, Internet light is seen as the enabler to connect the unconnected 3.5 billion people on the planet and to become the catalyst for the Sustainable Developmetn Goals (SDGs).
You can read the paper here.
The reference: Josef Noll, Sudhir Dixit, Danica Radovanovic, Maghsoud Morshedi, Christine Holst, Andrea S. Winkler, “5G Network Slicing for Digital Inclusion“, IEEE COMSNETS 2018, Jan 2018, Bangalore, India
Last week, we had an opportunity to participate and discuss with other internet creators and practitioners in Geneva, at the Internet Governance Forum. Since there were numerous parallel tracks, I followed and participated in those tracks related to access, digital inclusion, policy, and privacy. I tweeted live from the event (#IGF2017), and there are the main lessons and thoughts that came out to the surface (many of them, again, for years now):
- Technology is personal, and political.
- We need to unpack power structures in technology, digital security, and usage.
- Basic literacy training with respect to how to use computers and basic applications with computers and basic applications on the Internet.
- Digital literacy is a key pillar in terms of opportunities and barriers, of privacy and security online. It’s not just about the usage, also about the awareness and engagement with the local communities.
- Digital skills and awareness are needed not only in underdeveloped countries – also – in developed countries.
- We need good practices for the safer online environment -> our entire educational system has to start early on what they hear and see in an online sphere.
I am so excited – the conceptual artist and illustrator from Belgium, Nima Nilian, approached to me the other day and showed me the illustration/cartoon he made of me geeking out/working on my computer, and asked for permission to publish it online. I can’t get over how multi-talented this artist is and how honored I am. This illustration is so cute, be sure to check out all his work at Artstation.
It’s been over a month since the Digi project inception meeting in Oslo. Those who missed my previous posts on this, in a nutshell: the Non-discriminating access for Digital Inclusion (DigI) project is a three year project, running from 2017–2020 with the main objective to establish pilots for the InfoInternet access in DRC Congo and Tanzania. The project was founded by the Research Council of Norway as part of the Visjon2030 portfolje. R&I work related to the pilots will prove business profitability for commercial establishment of the InfoInternet as an independent and self-sustainable ICT and communication infrastructure for digital inclusion.
The project vision on free access to information for everyone’ is realised in Tanzania through the intervention free access to digital health information and in DRC through free access to information as basis for digital economy.
The assumption of the project is that information uptake will
- lead to knowledge update, both for health education and for school education;
- prepare the ground for digital literacy;
- contribute to better health for humans and animals; and will
- foster societal growth both in terms of digital entrepreneurship and the overall economy.
We approach the vision of the design of new technology, the InfoInternet, providing hot-spots with free access to information both on user devices (BYOD) and on tablets. Through the hot-spots, we address availability and affordability. The hot-spots themselves will create jobs related to the digital economy (e.g. voucher sales), and are the entry points for other actors supporting information access, e.g. sponsoring Internet Access through advertisements.
This is what happened in Oslo. Day one of the kick-off meeting happened at UNIK, in Kjeller where the first internet in Europe came in 1973. Beside the meeting and presentations I followed, I had a pretty hectic day: it was a deadline day for the Marie Curie project proposal I was applying for (note to self — never, never ever wait the last minute for a deadline or submit three minutes before servers are closing down the submission form). Bernard Ngowi from the National Centre for Medical Research, in Tanzania, presented Digital Health for Africa, and experiences from Tanzania [click here to see the presentation]. Andrea Winkler from University of Oslo talked about Germany-Norway collaboration and Centre for Global Health [click to open], and Erwan Le Quentrec from Orange presented Economic Development using Mobile Phone can transform social development into cooperation and co-development [click to open].
Afterwards, we drove to Oslo marina and from there, our group took a boat through the fjord into the beautiful nature and green area by the sea, to the peninsula of Nesodden where we had a lovely dinner in a rustic boathouse in Flaskebekk. It was so fun and adventurous to go through the fjord and drive the boat (thanks Josef for letting me navigate and not ruin your boat and keeping the team alive on the surface). After the dinner and some frolics, I returned to the city by ferry, it was already late at night.
Day two of the Digi meeting started with the identification of topics and next steps, and planning and scheduling for Tanzania and Congo. Actually, we brainstormed and discussed all day, it was inspiring and interactive; we checked out the solar panel pilot at the gazebo, a health and village platform we plan for the rural areas in Tanzania. Also, we set up the future analogue meetings in the next couple of years. My tasks include digital literacy exploration and KPI, Uptake of Digital Health Information, Technology acceptance and User acceptance, etc. Everything is collaborative work and I’m very happy and grateful to work with amazing colleagues from different disciplines.
See you next time with the new Digi project letters from Tanzania, Berlin, and Paris.