Friday, December 12, 2014

Granma says IT is now a priority -- is this true change?

An article in Granma says the "informatización" of society is a priority for Cuba.

They say the 154 public "navigation" rooms were a trial balloon -- it is not clear whether they were referring to the technology or public acceptance -- but evidently they have been pleased with the results.

At one point, the article refers to the "information superhighway" -- an expression that seems as dated as the Cuban Internet.

They say Cubans will not only "drink" from the Internet, but will contribute content -- putting the best of Cuban of culture, education, knowledge and humanism on line. As I have suggested, online education and medical information would be a good place to start.

The article speaks of the ongoing, gradual implementation of 26 projects, but it is not clear what sorts of projects they refer to. One concrete promise is the expansion of public access rooms in libraries and post offices. They will also be rolling out digital television.

If they are sincere, they should consider satellite connectivity as a low-cost, interim option and follow up on that friendly visit from Google a while ago. I would also keep an eye on Elon Musk's satellite plans.

If we are going to see a new era in Cuba's attitude toward the Internet, policy considerations are more important than technology -- the goal is to benefit the Cuban people, not the government, ETECSA (or AT&T). Cuba is nearly an "Internet greenfield" -- there is little installed infrastructure so they could plan on future technologies, look for expertise around the world and set goals that are uniquely Cuban.

This article appeared around the same time as an official presentation on technology to students at the University of Havana. I am not enough of a "Cuba watcher" to have an opinion as to whether this signifies a true change -- I hope it does.

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Also see this post.
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