Sympathetic Stupid

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Attention Gap

This is a really important interview, linked through the WorldChanging Retro series.

My reservations are centered around the way he keeps talking about the blogosphere and the blog community because I'm not completely convinced about the overwhelming power of blogging. Many blog 'networks' seem to be simply online reifications of offline social groupings. But we'll see how that turns out.

However, it's self-evident that the more visible the developing world is to the developed world, the harder it is for atrocities and corruption to occur. The pin up boy is obviously Salam Pax, who gave a voice and face to the people actually being fucked up in the invasion of Iraq. The problem, of course, is where was the public attention when he was living his life under a dictator? (I can't remember if he started before or after that.) How do we get attention to everyday blogs throughout the world instead of just in the privileged West? 'Blogging is an elite technocratic culture.'

The initial problem is likely to be lack of motivation; why blog, in fact, what is a blog? Lack of technology. Lack of a common language. More basic, lack of literacy in any language. So this is hard.

The other theme of the interview is getting technology to developing countries, to bridge the digital divide. You end up with similar problems of reference points. I couldn't start to know what's needed in a developing country where the power goes out four times a day and all we have are 386s and it's too hot for the machines to run anyway and few can read and many fewer are techno-literate.

His final quote is well-honed:

'We've got income gaps and technology gaps, sure, but ultimately, I think the attention gap is the biggest of all.'