The Southeast Asian country Myanmar – aka Burma – is incredibly complex and unpredictable. It is a crossroad of various interests and seems to defy any attempt to identify a consistency – be it in terms of governance, ethnicity, or economy.
My interest in Myanmar – or more precise its people – consequently includes the Burmese diaspora.
Another focus is on Japan, initially starting from 1994 when I took up training in Aikido and eventually leading to basic language skills.
Lastly, over a language degree at university and over ten years of residence in the Czech Republic – with a short excursion to Slovakia – strengthened my familiarity with that region.
Information and Communication Technology will continue to play a crucial role in the empowerment of civil society groups, especially where local authorities and society impede open activities, where funding is insufficient or where local travel conditions prevent face-to-face meetings. We need, however, to apply it carefully and be aware that it is no magic bullet for positive change.
The technological development produces in short time many new forms of media that not only require special skills to participate in the creation of content, but also a new literacy for the changed usage patterns that affect even the way how we use traditional media. While the phenomena that prominently have been labelled as “Web 2.0” offer unprecedented possibilities to engage civil society actors, they, at the same time, also bear the risk to entrench a digital divide. Qualification is therefore key to empowerment.
In developing countries and countries in transition, mobile networks are often more accessible and affordable than wired connections. The development of mobile infrastructure proceeds significantly faster than the modernization of landlines, and low costs for end users persuade them to connect to the Internet via mobile devices. Any strategy that seeks to connect individuals and communities to the web therefore needs to consider the relevance of mobile Internet access in these regions.