Friday, February 26, 2010

"If a family cannot stay together because there is not enough work or money for them to survive otherwise, surely that is poverty"

--- Jaman Matthews, in his report for Heifer on a visit to Jaltenango, a dusty outpost in rural Chiapas

Matthews writes:
"Poverty is an elusive concept to pin down. Most of us have a preconceived idea of what poverty looks like. The people in these coffee-growing communities didn’t fit those stereotypes—there were no skeleton-thin children, no one was dirty or ragged, the view down into the coffee plots was breathtaking. There were even a few vehicles in some of the villages.

"But all of these things hide the hardscrabble existence here. The vehicles are used to go to Jaltenango once a month for basic supplies, like beans and corn, not for joyriding. The children may not be thin, but they are often severely undernourished. And even though the villages are surrounded by coffee, we never had coffee in any of them. Families here do not, it seems, drink the product they grow any more than an Iowa corn farmer consumes what he grows. Coffee is the way they eke out a barebones survival."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Google loves challenging old business models with new technology ideas"

--- Mark Sullivan in his PC World piece on 10 Feb 2010 "Google Challenge to US Broadband Might Actually Change Things"

In context:
The announcement comes right on the heels of the federal government releasing the first round of funding for broadband networks to rural and underserved areas. It appears to be intended as an adjunct to the FCC’s own Broadband Plan, as if to say: “See, you can do it like this.”

Google loves challenging old business models with new technology ideas. Today’s announcement is the search giant’s opening salvo in a challenge to US broadband, which is monopolistic, slow and sees openness as a threat to profits.


I sincerely hope the tech and telecom communities rally around what Google is trying to do here. The planned fiber networks are not big enough to excite the suspicions among privacy conspiracy junkies that Google is only running the networks to collect more data about us, and as a new platform for its advertising business.

If the network goes national, those will be important questions to explore. For now, though, Google has a rare opportunity to put real pressure on large ISPs like AT&T and Comcast to sell more bandwidth for less money.

I can get behind that.
More a more neutral report, see the Wall Street Journal, "Google Jolts Telecom Rivals", 11 Feb 2010.

If nothing else, this is PR genius of the caliber we've come to expect of Google. Huge bang for little buck.