The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World

The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World

The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World

The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World

Synopsis

Through the lens of culture, The Internet of Elsewhere looks at the role of the Internet as a catalyst in transforming communications, politics, and economics. Cyrus Farivar explores the Internet's history and effects in four distinct and, to some, surprising societies--Iran, Estonia, South Korea, and Senegal. He profiles Web pioneers in these countries and, at the same time, surveys the environments in which they each work. After all, contends Farivar, despite California's great success in creating the Internet and spawning companies like Apple and Google, in some areas the United States is still years behind other nations.

Surprised? You won't be for long as Farivar proves there are reasons that:

  • Skype was invented in Estonia--the same country that developed a digital ID system and e-voting;
  • Iran was the first country in the world to arrest a blogger, in 2003;
  • South Korea is the most wired country on the planet, with faster and less expensive broadband than anywhere in the United States;
  • Senegal may be one of sub-Saharan Africa's best chances for greater Internet access.

The Internet of Elsewhere brings forth a new complex and modern understanding of how the Internet spreads globally, with both good and bad effects.

Excerpt

I have just finished reading this book. It is an amazing amalgam of history, despair, triumph of the human spirit, and close-up glimpses of the complex fabric of social, political, and technological revolution. Written through a framework of countries where change has come despite all odds, it takes the reader into cultures that have absorbed, adapted, and altered the Internet fabric to fit their unique contexts.

I had the pleasure of meeting the author of this book, Cyrus Farivar, at a conference called LIFT, in 2009. I enjoyed our give and take in an interview, but until I read this book I did not fully appreciate the depth of passion that the Internet and its story in these countries had stirred in his soul.

I was reminded of another book, written in 1992 by Carl Malamud, titled Exploring the Internet. Malamud was already blazing historical trails in an Internet that was just making its way onto the public’s radar. It was the year when I first heard people apologizing for not having an e-mail address on their business cards. Considering that networked e-mail had been invented in 1971, this was a long, twenty-year gestation! The World Wide Web, although conceived and first made concrete at CERN on Christmas Day, 1990, had not yet emerged to public consciousness. But Malamud’s tales chronicled a global awakening.

Farivar has done something similar in this book, but also draws our attention to the courage it has taken in some places to pursue access to and development of Internet infrastructure in regimes where freedom of expression is the exception, not the rule. The old adage: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” seems eminently appropriate to describe much of what is found in these stories.

While the Internet could not have become what it is today without the concerted efforts of millions, it is still remarkable that the success stories in this book revolve around one or perhaps a few people who dedicate themselves to planting and growing the Internet’s seeds in sometimes resistant soil. These stories reinforce the notion that sometimes one person can make an enormous difference. It is a reminder that patience and persistence are often the only ways to achieve long-term goals.

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