Third World to Second Superpower

Jim Moore points to a chapter from his forthcoming book, co-authored with Ethan Zuckerman on “Extreme Democracy.” The chapter “takes the idea of The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head and Joi Ito’s Emergent Democracy and asks: How can we get the rest of the world engaged in this–when currently they are so underrepresented in everything from traditional to blog media?”

A few ideas suggested by Jim:

Third-world Orkut. Give extra points for third world friends signed up.

Skoop-based sites in the third world would allow self-registering “crossing the chasm” blogs for all who now have email accounts–which is actually many more folks in the third world than have computers, due to cybercafe access..

And start to tweak the Net-based world news. Imagine if Google News gave extra ranking points to news sourced in the third world?

What if Feedster had RSS feeds from newspaper front pages and blogs in the third world, referenceable by various sub-sortings, starting with geography? This project would require setting up RSS outputs for some newspapers–but might, say, be something Soros’ OSI could do in conjunction with some of the journalism organizations..

Writes Ethan: “Given the challenges of involving the developing world in the world of online reporting, discussion and activism, it’s worth asking whether it’s reasonable to try to make room for the Third World in the second superpower. Are technologists in developed economies being absurdly arrogant in speculating that a set of tools and behaviors used by less than one percent of the world’s population a disproportionately wealthy and powerful group of people can help change the political lives of people around the world? My strong suspicion is that the answer to this question depends a great deal on the actions of the people using and developing these tools in the First World. In designing the tools to enable communities, are we thinking about the full spectrum of people we’d like to use these tools? Are we helping people join our dialogues, or are we content to keep them out? If we are committed to the long, hard project of ensuring that the whole world has a chance to participate in our conversation, there’s a chance that emergent democracy can be a force in emerging democracies. If not, we help ensure that the community phenomena that have developed around social software won’t extend to the people who could be most positively affected by this technology.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.