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Can Russia Build A Silicon Valley?

Vivek Wadhwa's picture

A few months ago, I wrote about why I believed that Russia’s planned “science city” was destined for failure, in my BusinessWeek column. I predicted that it would follow the path of the hundreds of cluster development projects before it. Political leaders would hold press conferences to claim credit for advancing science and technology; management consultants would earn hefty fees; real-estate barons would reap fortunes; and as always happens, taxpayers would be left holding the bag. You don’t read about the failures of tech clusters all over the world, in countries like Japan, Egypt, Malaysia, and in many regions of the United States. That’s because they die slow, silent deaths. And that is the way nearly all government-sponsored innovation efforts go.

Given my scathing criticism, I had expected the Russian Federation to declare me persona non grata. Instead, I got an urgent call from Ellis Rubinstein, president of the New York Academy of Sciences.  He said that the Honorable Ilya Ponomarev, head of the high-tech subcommittee of the Russian State Duma (Russia’s parliament) had asked the academy to prepare a detailed report on this subject. And they wanted my input. Ellis also asked whether I would accompany his team to Russia to discuss the issue.  I wasn’t sure if this was an elaborate scheme to have me locked up in a Russian gulag, but I hold Ellis in such high regard that I agreed.

Technology and Transparency

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Say you're a civil society activist who uses online and mobile technology as a tool for greater accountability. Wouldn't you want to be able to call up a map of the world and easily find examples from other countries that might also be relevant for your work?
 
Turns out, you can. Recently, at the Internet at Liberty 2010 conference co-sponsored by Google and Central European University, I heard a presentation from the Technology and Transparency Network, which is an initiative of Global Voices and Rising Voices.  Click on the link, and you'll see that the Technology and Transparency Network's home page is a map of the world, where you can zoom in on individual projects in countries like Mexico, Sudan, Uganda, Cambodia and Hungary. 

Of free classrooms and ubiquitous laptops

Mamata Pokharel's picture

How many of you have used Youtube to learn new things? I know I have. It was on Youtube that I discovered two young instructors from Iowa, who I have to thank for my basic salsa moves. When I bought a new camera, I turned to Youtube to give me some tips and send me on my way. And of course, if I ever need to learn how to survive a zombie attack, or how to become a ninja, I know I can depend on Youtube to impart those very important skills.

New York Times review of the FailFaire on ICT in Development...

Edith Wilson's picture

So here's another view of the gathering last week, from New York Times and International Herald Tribune reporter Stephanie Strom...  Interesting how she appreciated the humor and relaxed nature of the FailFaire -- she's right, making people comfortable when they are talking about frustrations and deadends is important. 

www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/technology/17fail.html

Transport projects and the potential impact on crime

Georges Darido's picture

Transport projects typically do not include the reduction of crime and violence as an objective, but it could be a collateral benefit from investments in certain equipment and services also meant to improve the operational efficiency of a transport system.   One example of this is the case of CPTM, the State suburban rail system for the São Paulo Metropolitan Region which carries almost 2 million passengers per day.   CPTM was created in 1992 from Federal and State of S&

Notes from the Field: Comparing Three Villages in Madhya Pradesh

Jishnu Das's picture

Kids sitting down reading but where is the teacher?I  was in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh recently. Madhya Pradesh, or MP, as most Indians know it – is a big state in the middle of the country. It also has some of the poorest human development indicators in the country.

Some distance from Gwalior, we get off at a large village on the side of the road and start walking away from the highway towards the villages in the interior. Eventually, we cross a stream and reach the last village before a hill stops the road from going any further.

We are in a tribal village, with silos for community grain, a recently constructed Panchayat (the local governing body) hall and a decrepit school. The schools have been closed down after the walls collapsed and snakes were discovered in the classroom. The teachers now hold classes in the temple under a large banyan tree.

Jean Ping on information and communications technology

Sameer Vasta's picture

Jean Ping, African Union Commission Chairperson

Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings on April 23, 2010:

"ICTs [Information and Communications Technology] can be the single most important tool of our generation if given the right environment."

What do you think?

What can development learn from the information and communication technology revolution?

Siena Anstis's picture

A few months ago, I was at a dinner at Erik Hersman’s (also behind Ushahidi). His team has started a new project called iHub, basically a technology (web and mobile) incubator in a great new office building in Nairobi. Fledgling programers submit an application for membership and, if accepted, are given free & fast wireless internet and a great place to work with like-minded people.


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