Bruce Sterling on the impacts of money digitization

Lift Asia 08 took place again in Korea this September and features an excellent program. I was waiting for the video of Jan Chipchase’s talk on nomadic work/life enabled by mobile technologies to go online, but so far only a few videos are available. However, as a matter of fact, the first video featuring Bruce Sterling’s talk is highly relevant for the ICT4D movement.

Bruce Sterling is a brilliant writer, blogger, and futurist. At Lift Asia 08 he talked about the implications of cell phones for the poor. He says that in earlier times the poor people were peasants, living in the country, but now the poor are urban, and own a cell phone. He makes the point that, while there certainly is a computer divide, there is no cell phone divide, meaning even people, who are illiterate are using cell phones. People, who never really owned money, now have sudden access to electronic money thanks to cell phone based payment systems.

In the last part of his talk he talks about the “electronic contrast” between North and South Korea. He predicts a fall of the North Korean regime and that South Korea will eventually own it together with all its problems. The North Korean, who never owned cell phones, will get cell phones and move into the cities. Bruce Sterling argues that giving them money won’t be a solution and encourages South Korea to work on an “electronic Korean solution for poverty”.

The talk is brilliant. It also strikes me that he didn’t use any slides, which I only noticed after watching the talk half-way through. I’ve seen other speakers doing this and failing. This talk is therefore really inspiring.

Watch the talk on Google Video.

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Bruce Sterling on the impacts of money digitization
was published on 06.10.2008 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under east asia
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