WorldChanging (Vinay Gupta) outlines “what a ‘Leapfrogged’ world might look like, one in which smart use was made of available technologies. In a sense, this Leapfrogged World is already around us, it’s just very heavily mixed in with both the traditional-technologies world and the direct-copy-of-worst-practices world.”
Leapfrogging… is the idea that countries without basic infrastructure like universal telecommunications can go directly to the best, most fitting solutions without having labor through the developmental struggle of telegraph, manually-switched telephony, direct-dial, brick-sized cell phones, analog cell phones, 3G digital. They just hop straight to 3G, piggybacking off the enormous human and capital investements it took to get there.
Leapfrogging is said to be a great equalizing force because the rich nations have already paid the price of developing these technologies, competition among companies in those nations keeps the technologies cheap, and the world’s poor gets the benefits. The poster-child for Leapfrogging is the the cellphone.
If you question the value of the consumer society, please remember that the only reason that the peasants in China have cell phones is because the people in LA demanded them (and were willing and able to pay) them 20 years ago!