Smart Mobs links to an introductory piece on technological ‘leapfrogging’. Leapfrogging is the name given to the tendency of a number of ‘developing’ countries to skip over some of the technologies that have become popular in the west straight to newer ones, such as skipping land-line telephones in favour of moving straight to cellular technology that doesn’t require the expensive installation of cables across vast countries.
The potential of some new technologies to make a difference in isolated communities is immense. I remember one consultant telling me of a programme he was researching that would use videophones to allow specialist doctors to give advice on treatments in villages they would never ordinarily be able to reach, massively expanding the ease of communication between locally based generalists and distant specialists.
Naturally such technology has costs, and in itself isn’t a solution to more systemic issues, but it’s a fascinating field and, to me, a hopeful one.