The digital divide between developed and developing countries is no longer only about access to technology. A gulf also exists in attitudes to technology, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
It’s pretty obvious that developed countries almost seem to be a on a different planet from those with emerging economies when one considers use of high-tech devices and their visibility in the human environment.
But now an invisible divide between the haves and have-nots has also emerged, and that is the gulf between the attitudes of those living in such divergent economies.
A global study released by Microsoft last week shows that, while most Internet users believe personal technology has improved their lives, far more users in developing countries believe it has improved social bonds.
The report, entitled “Views from Around the Globe: 2nd Annual Poll on How Personal Technology Is Changing Our Lives,” is based on interviews with more than12 000 Internet users from 12 countries.
The most fascinating aspect of the study is how greater pervasiveness of technology seems to result in reduced enthusiasm for specific benefits, like fitness and the sharing economy. Instead, those with greater access tend to express greater concern about issues like privacy. Naturally, such issues are less important in environments where the implications of pervasive connectedness have not yet become apparent.
The key overall findings, according to Microsoft, include:
- • Most respondents across all 12 countries think personal technology has had a positive impact on their ability to find more affordable products, start new businesses and be more productive;
- • Most respondents say it has benefited social activism;
- • More respondents than in the previous year said technology had had a positive impact on transportation and literacy;
- • Fewer than in the previous year said it has benefited social bonds, personal freedom and political expression.
- • Concern about technology’s impact on privacy jumped significantly. Most users across 11 of the 12 countries surveyed said technology’s effect on privacy was mostly negative.
- • Majorities in all countries except India and Indonesia said current legal protections for users of personal technology were insufficient;
However, marked differences began to emerge when responses from developing countries were grouped, says Zoaib Hoosen, managing director of Microsoft South Africa.
“In developing countries, 60 per cent of respondents said technology had a positive impact on social bonds, versus only 36 per cent in developing countries. That’s a very significant difference.
“The sharing economy, with its online services like Uber, are seen as having a positive impact in in developing countries, while in developed countries they still preferred traditional services.
“The issue there is that they often didn’t have a viable alternative in developing countries, whereas such services in developed countries merely add additional options. It’s about leapfrogging traditional services that don’t exist versus disruption of existing services. The former has a bigger impact.”
Nevertheless, says Mark Penn, Microsoft executive vice president and chief strategy officer, “Internet users overwhelmingly say that personal technology is making the world better and more vital.”
The area that saw the greatest divergence was the effect of technology on trust in the media, says Penn.
“By a 2:1 margin, respondents in developing countries think personal technology has had a mostly positive effect on trust in the media. But in developed countries, the impression is the opposite: respondents believe by a 2:1 margin that the effect on trust in the media has been mostly negative.”
The key factor behind this attitude divide appears to be the media habits of respondents, and dependence on social media.
“These opposing views are borne out in the two kinds of countries’ media habits,” says Penn. “In developing countries, 70 per cent of respondents get most of their news from social media, compared to only 31 per cent in developed countries.”
With social media access accelerating in developing countries, thanks to rapidly growing access on phones, that divide is unlikely to be bridged very soon.
* The poll, conducted in the last two weeks of December 2014, included Internet users in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the U.S.
CES: TV, cars, health, will define tech year
The CES gadget fest starting in Las Vegas this weekend will set the tech agenda, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
The cliché question goes, if you didn’t post a pic on social media from a place you visited, were you really there? The equivalent in the world of gadgetry is, if a new product wasn’t launched at CES, was it really launched?
Obviously there are other shows and events that are perfectly adequate for launches, but CES is the one that defines the high-tech year. Hosted in Las Vegas in the second week of January every year, it provides the onramp into the public mind for the next generation of TV, automotive and health technology, among many others.
Those three categories have helped redefine the event in recent years.
Starting with TV, the big names like Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Hisense use CES as a showcase for both their next generation of display technology and the next family of acronyms they use to try to capture mindshare. This year, expect them to jostle with the likes of TCL, Skyworth, Sharp and Sony for attention. Most of them will host press conferences on Sunday and Monday, 6 and 7 January.
Click here for a preview of automotive and health technology at CES.
Serious Gadgets of the Year
Gadgetry is not only about fun devices, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK as he picks the best business gadgets of 2018.
So many gadgets are sold to us on the basis that they will improve our lives and make us more productive, it’s amazing that we still use them mostly for fun. But there is a serious side to gadgetry, and many cutting-edge devices are aimed solely at making our working lives more efficient.
As 2019 dawns, it’s an ideal time to review the devices that are intended to make our offices and homes both more productive and efficient. With that in mind, this is my pick of the serious gadgets for 2018:
Best computer: Apple Mac Mini
After five years of no updates, the Mac Mini has been refreshed with seriously impressive specs for a computer the size of a hardcover book. The real magic lurks in the back, with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can transfer data at up to 8 times faster than a USB 3 drive. They can also power – and output – to two 4K displays simultaneously. The Mini can also use external graphics, which transform it into a graphics demon.
Best mini-computer: Cloudgate X
The Cloudgate X is an office powerhouse the size of a sandwich. Powered by an Intel Quad-Core Apollo Lake chip, Windows 10 and a solid state hard drive (translation: “fast”), the X connects to any standard monitor, keyboard and mouse. It also offers ample connectivity options. In the typical business environment, it won’t buckle under Microsoft Office and accounting applications.
Apple’s latest flagship tablet for professional users, the iPad Pro, has been redesigned to fit more screen onto the same-sized tablet, while increasing performance by up to 90% over the previous generation. Apple claimed in October 2018 that the iPad Pro was faster than 92% of conventional laptops on the market. With iOS apps becoming increasingly more capable of desktop functions, combining the latest Pro with the “clip-on” wirelessly charging Apple Pencil and keyboard folio case gives the traditional desktop computer a run for its money.
Best monitor: Samsung CHG90 49-inch Ultra-wide Screen
Geared towards both gaming and productivity, Samsung’s CHG90 49-inch 32:9 Screen is aimed at the computing-intensive user. The curved display provides an immersive experience by surrounding one’s peripheral vision with display. A word of warning: it’s a serious monitor that demands serious space.
Click here to see the best storage device, best docking device and best payment device.