Need For Tech In Societies Untouched By It

Updated: Aug 13 2002, 05:30am hrs
Tedson J Meyers has been a Governor of The International Conference on Computer Communication for about 15 years. He is head of the Telecommunications Practice Group at Coudert Brothers, an international law firm. He is also a Director of WorldSpace Inc, the digital audio satellite broadcasting company. He specializes in international communications law. In an interview with Priya Srinivasan of eFE, he shares his views on the need for the Internet to shed the dominance of the English language and the need for networks to realize that the human demand for the receipt and tranmission of information is what drives them. Excerpts.

The title for the conference this time is Redefining Internet In The Context Of Pervasive Computing. Why has the subject assumed such significance at this point
It is important to begin to examine the technological and social consequences of so many people being on the network today. It all began with a relatively small number of networks connecting very big computers for very specific purposes. My point of view is that societies are investing colossal sums to instal new infratructure to take advantage of what is happening at the terminal points - which determines the need for capacity expansion but all this demand is coming from sophisticated devices. To give you a simple analogy, it is like building highways to accommodate sophisticated cars.

Is this phenomenon driving a deeper wedge into what has come to be known as the digital divide
Technology does not create the divide. Human resources create the divide and technology is in fact capable of ending that divide. The urgent need is for technology to be brought to play in societies where people are still untouched by it.

What in your opinion is the best way to address this issue
This has to be done in the context of public policy. But most importantly, I think the use of technology in education is necessary. Any child at 8 provided he or she is given the right inputs is capable of actually programming. The momentum for programs like these needs to come from the people. We at ICCC plan to assemble a task force from among our governors to look at this issue in the coming year. For instance farmers across the world are using programs to control crop marketing and wherever there is an issue with the power source there are instances of using alternative sources of power like solar power.

What do you think are some the most important issues on hand in terms of making the Internet more adaptable to a wide variety of people
We need to get out of the idea that the English is the langauge of the Net. I dont care about the motives of the people who are interested in bringing more languages on the net. If a car salesman feels that he needs to speak Spanish in order to be more effective with his customer online then he should by all means be able to do so. We have gone down from an 85 per cent English dominance on the net to 70 percent in a 5-year time frame but I will only be satisfied when you can put down a message to me in Hindi and I can see it in English - that is global communications. Fortunately technologies like XML today can form the basis for real time translation.