Monday, April 14, 2008

Access to Information in the Third World

There's a nice article in this weekend's New York Times Magazine about how enhanced access to information improves living conditions in the third world. "Ah hah," I'm sure all of you librarians out there are now thinking, "Further proof of how wonderful libraries are!" Actually, no: the story is about how cellphones allow the global poor easy access to information that was either completely unavailable or prohibitively expensive before. (It's an interesting mental exercise for a librarian, actually, to read this article and try to figure out how a library could function to meet the sorts of information needs that are featured in it.)

By the way, the article mentions in passing the story of the fishermen of Kerala, India, who provided some of the first evidence of how important access to information is for the global poor. That story by itself is fascinating. If you're interested, here are a paper from the Quarterly Journal of Economics and a Washington Post article about the research that has been done on these fishermen.

(Yes, I am aware that it's been almost a month since I updated this blog. Yes, I am aware that this makes me a bad blogger. Blogging will become more regular once I finish packing up all of the junk I've acquired in the past 6.5 years and moving it 500 miles.)

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