This link coomes via Emergic- owned by Rajesh jain. He is eminently qualified to speak about the ups and lows of Net access- being one of the few “poster boys” of the erstwhile dotcom boom. As of now, he is busy in the low cost access options for this country- taking the power of net to the masses.
I have always argued against the proprietary software- making an exception for Apple Macintoshes! However, for majority of the populace, low cost computers need not come at a point where one has to compromise the fucntionality of the same. For example, even if the cheap Windows “Starter versions” get seeded with a processor that huffs and puffs to keep up with the demand, the attendant problem of viruses or spyware et al still remains. Further discussion is out of scope here. However, for all practical purposes, Linux remains a firm answer to the computing needs.
Each one to his own. Most of the individuals log in for either chat or emails. Little realising that being online can be really rewarding. I have discovered treasure trove of information; all helping me to grow as a person.
The article in The Week is mostly crap, save for a few nuggets of information that are scattered in between. Much of the attention is focussed on broadband networks and telemedicine projects; I still hold that by and large Telemedicine is a non starter. In any case, I fail to understand as to how they can replace the physician with a device. The only workable model so far has been Tele Radiology; I know of some doctors who are engaged in it full time. Digitised X Rays and CT scans can be commented upon across the time zones.
In any case, the role of internet for Health Dissemination is debatable. There is a clear cut case for support groups ( there was an article on the same in New England Journal of Medicine); however how much the informed patients can impede the treatment decisions is a matter of practical difficulty. Time tested communication skills can surely relay the anxiety in many cases; I have come across patients who insist to be treated the way their website has dictated. Well, the idea behind this is that the article should clearly mention that each case needs to be tailored individually; clear cut case of misreporting.
I d wholly agree with Sabeer Bhatia that Government of India has been totally myopic as far as the Internet access is concerned. Lopsided policies ( and it’s for everyone to see those who have no other option except BSNL) has resulted in a generalised mess. The best part is that as companies clamour to sign on more customers, price is going to play a crucial differentiating factor. This again confirms my belief that Data services is the only option if they have to survive in the market. Along with that, content services.
With broadband access coming of age, rural areas can easily be targetted for Health Education. This would open up another revenue model for localised services. Predominantly in English, Internet in India would come of age if the content is in local language. Can we see companies entering in to provide translating services? Or set up specialised portals targetted towards different groups like farmers and sellers? As for the health education, flash based videos or small movies can be made in addition to the spend on the traditional methods of information dissemination. The oppurtunity is vast; I believe that rural markets haven’t got the attention they deserve.
A decade of mobile services and a decade of Internet- it hasn’t rally got us in the “e age” as many people would claim. However, a small step indeed.