The reason why there haven’t been any posts recently is because I’ve been in the Cuba speaking to a lot of Latin American and Caribbean cultural portals (as part of the 5th International Congress on Culture and Development and the 3rd annual Culturemondo roundtable)- helping people comes to terms with the opportunities of ‘Web Dos’.
Not unsurprisingly in Havana it has been extremely difficult to get anything resembling a reliable and fast internet connection. Even the convention centre had a connection no more than 128K to the presentation room. Private internet connections are restricted and because of the US blockade and geopolitics there is no optic fibre connection to the island making even approved connections extremely limited bandwidth as the entire country is connected to the rest of the world by satellite only.
It has been a timely reminder that despite the promise of Web2.0, (reliable) connectivity is a big barrier to participation. As a result many of the groups I have spoken to are developing their sites for overseas visitors rather than local domestic users. Others such as Brazil and Mexico are working hard to connect their populace and building a strong technical infrastructure. With connectivity there comes a need for rapid development of local services and content – something that is already happening.
Walking around Havana it was very clear that the solution to internet connectivity is not going to be wired. Existing wired infrastructure for telephony and electricity is literally crumbling, along with the buildings, weathered by a stifled economy and the high salinity of the Caribbean waters. With wireless these geographic issues can be addressed at considerably less install and maintenance cost than cables.
When coupled with a thriving open source community behind which support is rapidly growing, there are some remarkable locally-grown opportunities that can be nurtured with appropriate public policies and support.