technology as hope

What is does information technology mean to us? For some, it is nothing but convenience. Whenever I use my newly acquired Blackberry to read and write e-mail, I am marveled by its efficiency. E-mail messages just roll in to my Blackberry no matter where I am. To others, it is a display of their wealth and position. There are mobile phones easily costing $30,000 or more. Or, you can indulge yourself with a big screen TV, providing images bigger than life. To others, it is pure pleasure. iPod, PS2, and now iPhones — they are pure pleasure to see and use. Extremely well designed and engineered.

Yet, in all of that, there is another dimension of technology. That is, hope. There are people looking at technology as a way out from where they are. In projects like MIT's $100 Laptop and Wireless Philadelphia, information technology is conceived as a source of hope. Technology is expected to catalyze the social and economic changes. Technology is seen as a way to build a new community, better education programs, and safer environments. In countries like Egypt, information technology is seen as a source of economic prosperity. Just as India was able to use information technology to become a global economic player, many countries want to build their economic policy around information technology. They want to reform their education program, health care, public safety, transportation systems, and yes, almost all aspect of their lives using information technology. To them, information technology is a source of hope that will allow them to rid of the label of "the third world country."

This is the story that I would like to learn more about. To them, technology is not a matter of convenience, luxury or status, but it is about tomorrow, a better tomorrow. A much better tomorrow. And again, this is a story of design.

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Professor | Writer | Teacher Digital Innovation, Design, Organizational Genetics Case Western Reserve University

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