The Revolution Will Not Be..." (by way of MarkTribe) on Thu, 14 Nov 96 18:18 MET

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nettime: Diary 13: The Boholian Fish Net

***** Discussing the Revolution *****

A ListServ for critical exchanges
about issues raised on
"The Revolution Will Not Be..."

Diary 13: THE BOHOLIAN FISH NET -- by Stuart Green

The revolution will not be televised... The Internet... Well, at the
moment I have been online for a mere six weeks. There is a total of 17
Internet users in Bohol, and eight only have e-mail. Things are picking
up quite slowly here, and Internet access was only offered starting in
June 1996!

My job, as I see it, is to learn as much about the Net as I can, and
then teach it to my colleagues in the office. Computers are pretty new
to most of the staff -- let alone all this modem lark. I have to sell it
very well: everyone enjoys talking about it now, but they really can't
grasp the basics, so it will be a slow process.

All this has made me realise how lucky we are, in the West, that
computers have been around for most of my generation. In the
Philippines, things are only just beginning. In the capital city of
Bohol there is only one computer sales shop, and software and spares are
impossible to find here -- even a trip to Manilla normally proves

Now I will tell you a story... I recently was sent an interesting note
from a friend asking me to write a diary (this diary in fact). I hooked
up the computer and tried to access the Web-page about this diary.
Access denied due to outdated software. Then, to rub salt into the
wounds, I got a little cocky message that basically said "well if you
haven't got Netscape version 2 or above you need to get a life." That is
just it: there may be lots of lovely software over there, but here,
there isn't. Sure, you can buy software straight online these days, but
it is at western prices, e.g. one program costs, lets say $150, which is
about three months income for a fisherfolk here (and remember: they have
5 children to feed and send to school).

So be fair, don't be what I would call a 'technofascist' towards
developing countries. It is elitist and reconfirms prejudices. If we are
to let developing countries develop on their own, then we must give them
a break. Don't make things unaccessible to slower/older computers and
software. If you do, then you are probably excluding some 95% of the

Anyway: 'the revolution that will not be televised,' for me, is
complicated, slow, and full of western copyrights and commercial
exploitation. But when a fisherfolk comes to me and asks for help,
(anything from advice on how to grow certain types of fish for
aquaculture, to different intermediate technologies) I write the
questions down, and when I get a chance I have a look for the
information on the Internet. Of course, the Internet is in English, so I
need to translate it for locals -- although some can read English.
(Local dialect is Visayan and it is not like western languages, it has
its own rules and ways of doing things). In our fisherfolk magazine we
have even started a page of information from the Internet (in Visayan of

As to other pros and cons, for me there are many; but to the fisherfolk
of Bohol, it will be a long time before they can get access to this sort
of technology and the knowledge on how to use it. There is, however, a
good group of students at the University of Bohol who are putting up a
Web site, which is good. What is also needed here (in my opinion at
least) is to encourage Eco-tourism in the island. Bohol has rainforests,
coral reefs, thick mangroves, the Chocolate Hills (1,001 small hills
which go brown in the summer -- a bizarre site, actually), the smallest
monkey in the world (the tarsier-tarsier), and a medley of magical
waterfalls. The problem is that at the moment the government needs
money. If it cannot get it from tourism, it will have to invite
factories in, and then the resources will go.

Thus, there is an untapped potential to set up a Web site for Bohol, and
to encourage people to visit here. That way we can keep what is here
(natural resources) and at the same time get money coming in. The
potential of the Internet is strong, but don't forget that the people
using it are the ones who can afford the technology, and who understand
it (i.e. got a full education). That leaves some 75% of the world -- and
probably the most needy people -- without access.

Perhaps I should start an Internet coconut wine cafe (the local brew)
here to get people into it?

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