Since this little planet of ours is increasingly becoming, what is often referred to as a “global village”, sharing our goods and interacting with each other, even if we are miles away, is something that comes up as a logical solution if we want to live in a harmonious and prosperous society. In what ways is that being done?
First of all, there are many associations and NGOs that provide help and services to developing countries. Among those are the efforts to have as much people as possible in contact with Internet, and computers in general. The idea behind this is that social networking would be very beneficial to people in those regions because they would get in contact with each other but also with the distant ‘worlds’ from whom they can learn a lot of new things. Even our everyday networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, could mean a lot to them in relation to gathering information about health, hygiene, education and employment.
Internet nowadays is full of educational content, in form of blogs, wikis and expert articles or books, and all of that can be very useful. However, not all people have access to such commodities and that is the reason why many organizations are focused on providing even elementary technological apparatus to those regions. Cell phones or laptops are being provided in form of donations, and even the idea of using solar power to generate free Wi-Fi is heavily discussed.
Naturally, not all of us are driven by so powerful altruistic urges. Big corporations and creators of many technological devices or programs are not happy to just give up on their profit and usually try to secure their trademarks and patents, as much as possible. On one hand, it seems fair. They make a living of that, and should be entitled to sell their own product, just like everybody else does, right? But there are a lot of people who would not agree with that, and are happy to help and share their products to anybody who may need it. This is what is generally known today as – Open Source (programs). Multitude of computer programs is built like this, in a collaboration of independent programmers from all around the world, who are generous and happy to be of service to anybody who is not capable of paying expensive license fees to corporate programs.
Open source is completely legal, and even though quality of their services is maybe not yet on the same level as that of the licensed products, the fact that it is free is enough for users in most developing countries. Astonishingly or not, as there are always two sides to the same coin, there are also illegal ways of sharing knowledge and technology. Piracy and theft, or as experts call it “copyright infringement”, is something that big companies are battling daily and on all fronts. In that constant struggle between protection of ones work and sharing it with all the world many tools are being used (torrents – an example of illegal download of multimedia content) but it always seems like a stalemate. When officials close one door, another one opens. And all over again.
Obviously, for a significant breakthrough in a global way of sharing knowledge and technology to happen there needs to be political agreement and laws and legislature need to be in sync. Utopian way of looking at things, I admit, but one day hopefully we will all be equal and have the same opportunities and starting points.