Project Management

Publishing

Entries in internet (18)

Tuesday
Jun052018

Mongolia Prepares for a Magazine Explosion | 1998

Publication: UB Post

Date: 08/09/1998

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) - Mongolian newsstands are bursting at the seams. But while the content of the country's publications is varied, their form is not. Newsprint rules this country's publishing industry. The few glossy magazines for sale are imports from Russia.

When the democratic revolution unleashed the tide of free expression in the early 1990s, a flood of newspapers poured forth. It made sense. The cheap-and-cheerful technology of newsprint is low-tech, accessible and inexpensive. Suddenly everyone could be a publisher. 

But Mongolia's increasingly sophisticated media landscape is about to go "glossy". Tomorrow (September 9) sees the launch of Ger (Home), Mongolia's first on-line magazine. A bilingual quarterly funded by the United Nations, it combines entertainment - articles on the changing sexual attitudes of young Mongolians and the country's vibrant pop scene - with information on the work of the UN and other NGOs in Mongolia.

"We want something that will tell the stories of Mongolians and their experiences over the last eight years - both to Mongolians and to the rest of the world," says David South, communications coordinator at the United Nations Development Programme.

This month also brings the premiere issue of Tusgal (Strike), billed as the first full-colour, general-interest magazine in the new Mongolia. Published by Mongol News Company - the privately owned media group whose stable of publications includes the daily newspaper Onoodor and The UB Post - it offers a lively mix of sport, culture and celebrity articles, also aimed primarily at the young.

These two publications are just the top of the stack. Mongolia's two best-known printing houses, Admon and Interpress, are said to be working on titles of their own.

Mongolia's quick-to-learn capitalists see a gap - and they want to fill it. 

"In Mongolia there are many newspapers, but no world-class magazines," says Tusgal's editor-in-chief, Do. Tsendjav. "On the streets you can see a lot of publications that aren't exactly magazines but you can't call newspapers, either - newspapers that appear every 10 days or two weeks.

"We want to fill this space. We want to produce the first colour magazine that will reach world standards, something close to Time or Newsweek." 

"There's an enormous thirst for quality journalism, quality publications that are interesting to look at, top photojournalism - all the things newspapers don't cover," adds South. 

"We've seen newspapers moving to more colour, more photographs, and that shows a desire for quality."

That quality comes at a price. Tusgal, with 70 colour pages, will sell for between Tg 1500 and Tg 2000 - not much cheaper than an American publication like Time, and too expensive for many Mongolians. 

With only 1000 Internet subscribers in Mongolia, Ger has an even smaller market within the country - though South is quick to point out, the UN has established public-access Internet centres in Ulaanbaatar and several aimags. 

And he says a print version is planned to follow. 

"Distribution is the big problem right now," he says. 

"We have to see how we can organize distribution to reach the whole country. I know more magazines will be launched soon in Mongolia, and hope a distribution network may grow out of that."

The editors know Mongolia's magazine market and magazine technology are in their infancy. Although companies like Admon and Interpress get more sophisticated equipment by the month, the capacity to produce quality publications is still limited - the first issue of Tusgal has been printed outside Mongolia. 

Human resources need to develop as well, Tsendjav admits. 

"To produce a monthly magazine you need highly qualified journalists. We don't have that right now. We're still seeking them out."

But he is confident this will change - and quickly, too, if the pace of development in the past eight years is anything to go by. 

"During socialism, Mongolia had many magazines, but it all stopped after 1990," notes Tsendjav. "It was a question of economics.

"At first we don't think we can earn money from this. If you want to make money you have to wait two or three years. So what we are aiming for at first is to build a readership.

"I think in two or three years, living standards will improve. People will have more money to spend on things like magazines. But we don't want to wait for people to get enough money. We want to be the first, so people will develop an interest.

"There will be competition. Nowadays a lot of business-people understand the importance of the media. I welcome competition. It'll make us work harder. It's good for everybody."

From In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999

© David South Consulting 2018 

Tuesday
Mar142017

From special report: Sexual Dealing: Today's Sex Toys Are Credit Cards & Cash: A Report on the Sex-for-Money Revolution

 

Porn Again: More Ways to Get Off, But Should We Regulate the Sex Industry?

By David South

Id Magazine (Canada), October 3-16, 1996

Meet Steven Wang. The young Toronto distributor of porn magazines and videos is jerking his arm up and down as he describes what sells adult videos.

“Explicit boxes – dick in the mouth, cum in the face makes it sell,” says Wang as he tells me about packaging the videos he distributes.

Wang doesn’t fit the stereotype of a smut dealer. He is wiry, well-groomed and fits in easily amid Toronto’s army of yuppies. Despite the topic of our conversation, he isn’t shy about being graphic in a public place.

Wang admits his parents aren’t too keen about his success as a smut dealer, but he proudly tells me about his latest project, Cybercafe (located on Toronto’s main goodtime drag, Yonge Street). Banks of computers line the walls of the cafe, and a few customers bang away on keyboards and swivel mouses. Blinders on video terminals are quickly jerked forward by shy internet users as each new customer walks by.

Wang thinks the internet is the way forward for porn distribution.

“It’s heading more to bondage, violence – anything that is weird. Haven’t seen it, want to see it. You can only find penetration on VHS (video), though fisting is allowed.” continues Wang, who prides himself on foreseeing trends. “Now that people have seen these things, they want to go to the next step. Because you can only get these things on the internet, 80 per cent of the people are there for the adult material. Internet is the future, period.”

Wang got into distributing porn videos in 1990, just as the Ontario government began to relax the restrictions on hardcore porn movies, as long as they didn’t contain sex involving violence, coercion, bondage, sado-masochism, degradation, incest, animals, or minors under the age of 18.

Wang says he has made some good money, but it’s time to start looking to the next trend. He says those who consume his products have an insatiable appetite for sex in all its forms.

Money-for-sex revolution

The 90s have seen a quiet revolution in the sale of sex. While paying for sex is nothing new, never before has such a plethora of choices been so openly peddled in Ontario’s newspapers and magazines, mostly at a male audience. There are escort services, so-called massage parlours, phone sex, adult videos, sadism and masochism shops and clubs, strip clubs and swingers’ clubs. On the internet, 127 sex news groups compete with over 200 sex services on the World Wide Web, many charging for the privilege to peek at sex photos. And the sex trade comes at a price, with evidence showing lack of regulation means youths continue to be drawn into the business, while users search for bigger and better thrills.

Toronto weekly Now Magazine has been a pioneer in sex advertising. In September 1989 the magazine’s back pages of classified ads contained around 130 “business personals,” ads placed by the city’s working prostitutes.

In the September 26, 1996 issue of Now, in seven pages of telephone personals and phone sex ads, there were 514 “Adult Classified” ads, a cornucopia of “massage” parlours, prostitutes, and escort agencies offering shemales, “hot Asian” and “Swedish” beauties.

While there isn’t any one source for accurate information on the size of Ontario’s sex industry, it is obvious it has not only grown in visibility, but in size.

“There definitely seems to be more of everything,” says Detective-Constable Austin Ferguson of the Metro Toronto Police’s vice section. “Look at how pornography video stores have blossomed – the spas, whatever you want to call them. Look through the yellow pages for strip bars, escort agencies.

“You got Now, Eye, pink pages, green pages, you can pick up the Toronto Star, The Sun. The phone lines are everywhere you look. I love it, it’s a great business,” says Ferguson sarcastically.

“Even five years ago, there were only a few massage parlours. Now there are 400 to 500 massage parlours in Toronto alone. It has quadrupled since 1990.”

“It’s an underground revolution,” says Sue McGarvie, a sex therapist and Ottawa talk-radio personality. “You go out on the street and see how many prostitutes there are, and how much more open it is, how many more night clubs there are that are gender neutral, that are fetish.”

McGarvie doesn’t think it necessarily means more people are turning to commercial sex.

“We are having as much sex as we ever had, we have as much sexual desire as we ever had,” says McGarvie. “I think the outlets are changing, so that we are going to have to be flexible about that.”

Steven Wang estimates 3,000 out of 5,000 Metro Toronto video stores carry adult videos. Another 1,250 exclusively carry adult videos. A manager at Toronto’s Adult Video Superstore says, “Sales and rentals have gone up in the last three years.” The Adults Only Video chain, founded by Kitchener-Waterloo resident Randy Jorgensen, now spans Canada with 51 stores, 12 in Toronto. And what internet user hasen’t taken a few minutes (or hours) to play voyeur on the many adult web sites or chat lines?

An Adults Only Video survey found, out of 2,000 customers, 56 per cent watch adult videos with a partner. It also claims 20 per cent of renters are women. Many are skeptical about these claims.

Barking through what sounds like a speaker phone, Larry Gayne, president of sex toy mail-order company Lady Calston, says “It’s all men who look at the back of Now. Some claim as much as 50 per cent of adult video watchers are women. I don’t know if I believe that figure.

“Sex is a US $40-billion business in North America alone. In 1992, more sex aids were sold than breakfast cereal.”

The businesses manufacturing sex try to distance themselves from the more visibly seedy porn stores.

“The explosion in triple X video stores is the only seedy end,” continues Gayne. “The sad part is you take away those triple X stores, there is no seedy part to this industry. Not behind the scenes, not in front. It doesn’t exist. There is nobody seedy at our level. Those people don’t exist, they are just normal businesses. There is in fact a downside to the triple X stores.”

Sue McGarvie is an enthusiastic supporter of greater sexual liberation, even if its expression is through the sex industry.

Speaking between clients from her Ottawa office, she says 36 new adult video stores have opened in Ottawa in the past five years.

“Some are small sections of regular video stores,” says McGarvie. “I’m a big believer, I’m still under 30, my generation is one of the first generations that is no longer attending church as a regular part of what we do. Sex is no longer a moral issue. But people are saying ‘wait a minute, because of STDs I’m going to be stuck with my partner for the rest of my life? I better make it the best damn sex we possibly can have.’ Vibrators are outselling any other appliance.

“I’m poised on the industry of the next decade, the next millennium. Sexuality as an expression is the second most powerful drive after food.”

McGarvie doesn’t think that what is in the adult video stores is unhealthy. “Porn as a term is not right, either. Porn is illegal, but the stuff in the video stores is not illegal.”

McGarvie also doubts adult videos are contributing to an atomised world, similar to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where the government controls a population anaesthetized by the buzz of orgasms and drugs.

“I don’t necessarily think it is causing people to be less intimate. The industry needs to stop being in the shadows. Our lives are busy. People are having a hard time connecting with others, but I think that is a separate issue. I think there is a new sexual revolution going on, and if our reality checks catch up with our sex drive, we’ll be okay. We don’t have socially acceptable ways of meeting people that isn’t in a bar when people are drinking.”

Toronto swinger and strip club DJ Ron Michaels thinks the tables are turning on the money-for-sex industry.

“A lot of adult video stores are closing. A lot of strip clubs are on the verge of going under,” says Michaels. “It is like a ghost town in there. I don’t see it is a growing trend. Perhaps it is more front page, more visible. I don’t think it’s any larger than is has been before. I think our society in general is far more sexually liberated than we were 50 years ago. Certainly more than 100 years ago.

“A lot of people thought they could make a fast buck off of it. The market can’t support that number,” according to Michaels.

Child porn

But is this really just good fun? Unfortunately, there is too much evidence showing a direct connection between a robust sex industry, and the sexual exploitation of minors and demand for degrading sex. A booming sex industry just can’t be disconnected from the exploitation of youths and an absorption in degrading, freaky sex, like defacation or bestiality. The industry may not be directly connected to the much-publicized paedophile rings in the news, but the mainstream sex industry is not adverse to exploiting youths and an appetite for sex with minors to sell videos and magazines.

“We have laid charges on people who were initially operating a reputable business,” says Ferguson, “until they found there was a demand for the seedier stuff.”

Sue Miner, the head of Toronto’s Street Outreach Services, says high unemployment rates amongst youth feeds the sex industry with a steady supply of desperate teens.

“It’s indicative of people needing to survive and not having jobs. I’ve heard enough young people saying they needed some money to pay the rent. A lot of young people do it to survive – survival sex.”

“I have yet to come across an escort agency that uses minors,” claims Ferguson, admitting that because he hasn’t, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. “It’s usually a bit more classier than that. You don’t get your Parkdale hooker types. Pimps don’t run escort agencies.”

A 1984 government study on prostitution, the Badgley Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youth, found one-half of prostitutes had entered the sex trade under the age of 16, 96 per cent had become prostitutes before the age of 18.

The overwhelming majority of prostitutes have run away from home at least once. Street prostitutes leave home at an earlier age than other children, at an average age of 13.7 years, compared to 17.3 years.

The most difficult porn to regulate, as most governments know, is on the internet.

Detective-Constable Ferguson says having photos of bestiality and paedophilia, for a few seconds on a harddrive, is considered by the law to be possession. He also admits because of the ethereal nature of computers, the law is totally unenforceable.

“You would have to get online with that person. Get to know them, chat with them.”

He does warn any internet cafes to stay clear of the stuff. “They are totally nuts to have obscene or child pornography available because somebody would spill the beans pretty quick.”

Escorts

As for prostitution, the police have a harder time controlling escort agencies because they are careful to never make a deal on the phone, says Ferguson.

“They are only going out for dinner and dance, eh?,” chuckles Ferguson. “Somebody sees a business opportunity to run prostitutes. They are harder to crack. It’s a long, long process to take one of these places down because of all the undercover work involved. What you can, can’t do. It’s no easy task.

“They won’t make a deal over the phone. They might say ‘you can have my service for $150/$200 an hour,’ as soon as you say ‘what do you get for that?’…click.”

McGarvie says she wouldn’t be too happy if her husband went to a prostitute to cope with sexual stress if they were too busy to have sex. On the other hand, she thinks the escort industry would decline if there were more healthy outlets for sexual release.

Toronto feminist and author Susan G. Cole, in her book Power Surge: Sex, Violence and Pornography, and ironically a Now Magazine editor, has called for greater regulation of pornography, arguing the industry really has no claim on freedom of expression. The public, Cole says, can accept a regulatory role for government when it comes to other industries, so why the exception for the smut trade?

This should be extended to the rest of the sex trade, she argues. Body-rub parlours, escort services, street prostitutes, strip clubs and phone sex, should not be allowed to remain in regulatory limbo, only subject to police attention when community groups kick up a storm.

Back at the Cybercafe, Steven Wang is trying to be heard over the Pet Shop Boys’ pounding dance beats.

If anybody wants to protest outside one of Wang’s two Toronto stores, or any other adult stores his videos are distributed in, he would probably make the placards. “Business goes up when we get pickets, negative reviews are always positive for the business – automatically sales go up that day,” says Wang smiling.

Swing Shift: Sexual liberation is back in style

By David South

Id Magazine (Canada), October 3-16, 1996

Deep in the bedrooms (and livingrooms) of the home-owning classes, the sexual liberation movement marches on: swingers’ parties are back. Those libidinous libertines many thought were lost in a 70s disco haze, according to a Toronto swinger, are back in greater numbers than in those polyester days. 

In contrast to the many people (mostly men) looking for the anonymous and on-demand buzz of escort agencies, porn videos and sex toys, it seems to me swinging is the most idealistic camp in the army of sexual liberation. There isn’t any sneaking around behind your spouse’s back - in fact, you bring them along for the good times. 

Swingers were usually the subject of the porn movies I watched at the base cinema during my army days. They weren’t real people, but some sort of myth from more electric times. 

Ron Michaels, 41, is an unabashed proselytizer for swinging. A strip-club DJ and erotic and commerical photographer, he’s also co-owner, along with his wife, of swingers’ club Eros. A confident and articulate spokesperson, he has been swinging since he was 17. 

“We believe honesty is the cornerstone of our lifestyle - that makes it work,” he says. “The people engaging in back-alley sex are being dishonest. It’s the same with having an affair - wanting your cake but not being able to share it with the rest of us. 

“Swinging is a moral alternative to having affairs.” 

The divorce rate among swingers, Michaels maintains, is only five per cent, compared to 51 per cent for the general population. The one wrinkle in this impressive “fact” is Michaels’ other admission that many swingers are on their second “married relationship”.

Interviewing Michaels, I feel like I’m talking to a Rotary Club member or a boy scout leader, not a swinger. The talk is about clubs, memberships ($69 a year per couple), trips. It’s a hobby, sport and lifestyle to many swingers, claims Michaels. 

“We have regular weekly functions throughout the year. Some of them are organized by the members. We organize trips and holidays. Weekends in the Caribbean. Like any other social club.”

That can’t be wife/husband swapping he’s talking about, can it?

Michaels’ Toronto Beaches home leaves no doubt as to its occupant’s lifestyle choices: “If you don’t swing, don’t ring,” says a brass plaque nailed to the door. 

Michaels is very proud of swinging’s growth in the 90s. His group has grown from 300 member-couples 14 years ago to 1,800 today. Michaels ambitiously estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 Southern Ontarians are into swinging, between 20 and 25 million across North America. 

So, how does swinging in the 90s work?

Michaels says most clubs operate more as matchmaking parties than full-out orgies. Couples get to know each other and make the arrangements to meet away from the club’s party. Michaels is quick to disassociate his club from drop-in style swingers parties. 

“Canadians are much more conservative than Americans. In New York they are more hardcore, less selective of their partners. When they get there they are more like, ‘let’s find the first available body and get to it,’ whereas people at social clubs want to get to know you. We are talking about four-way compatability here.”

According to Michaels, the big victory for Canadian swingers took place in 1992. “Our Mississauga club was raided back in ’92 and we took it through the courts for a year. We were acquitted and set a legal precedent, making swingers’ clubs legal.”

To many men, the whole swinging thing seems like the best of both worlds: you keep your wife and get to taste the fruits of other trees at the same time. But Michaels says this male teenage fantasy doesn’t pan out in reality. 

“That wears off pretty quickly. Let’s face it, men have a much lower capacity for sex than women do. Men need a longer recovery period and don’t have as many orgasms in a night. Women can just go and go. Guys can’t compete with that. After a while the fantasy wears thin, and it’s the guy that wants to drop out of the lifestyle.” 

And what about that oher most-asked-question: what’s it like to see your spouse having the time of their life with your neighbour?

“They don’t get into those kinds of comparisons. How can I describe this? It’s not a competitive thing where you try to outperform each other. Most swingers appreciate each other as being unique and different, rather than this is bigger, this is harder, this is faster, this is better. Each new experience is taken at face value, ‘Hey, it’s a good time’. You move on to the next one or you go back to your regular partner.”

“Cock Tales” too much for Hamilton

By David South

Id Magazine (Canada), October 3-16, 1996

Steeltown is a little less hot now that View, Hamilton’s alternative weekly, has dropped a controversial sex columnist in the face of complaints from distributors. The fracas has raised a thorny issue: to what extent should a newspaper stand behind a controversial writer?

My Messy Bedroom, a weekly column by Montreal journalist Josey Vogels, mixes graphic language and humour in its look at sexuality. The dispute erupted over a column in the August 22 issue entitled Cock Tales 1 (Cock Tales 2 will not run in View). 

A surprised and angry Vogels says she only found out her column had been dropped when id called her in September. Vogels believes the problem was with the frank discussion by men of their sexual tastes. “Maybe it was the opening line. ‘Mouth on my cock, finger in my butt, looking me in the eyes,’ then a joke: ‘Would you like fries with that?’”

Vogels maintains View knew what it was getting into when it picked up the syndicated column in June, 1995. “You can’t say you want a column because of its nature, then say you don’t like it.”

Vogels says she co-operated in the past when the magazine asked her to tone down a column. “But there is a line where my integrity is at stake.”

Tucked away among five pages of classified ads, My Messy Bedroom was the only piece of journalism with a sexual theme in View

Editor Veronica Magee says View received complaints that children were reading the column, and some distributors refused to carry the paper. In a rambling editorial in the September 5 issue, Magee defends the decision to drop the column, saying it was time the paper made some changes. 

Magee writes that Vogels’ column taught “sexuality is something clean, not dirty,” but admits some urban weeklies aren’t so urban, and must cater to a more conservative, suburban readership. “Hamilton is a conservative city,” she claims. 

In an interview with id, Magee admitted View’s attitude towards the column was “what can we get away with - let’s push the limit.

“Some people argue she should have known better. Although I’m sure people will believe we are making the writer suffer for a decision we made, that is not the intent.”

But the publisher and editor of View offer conflicting explanations of who actually pulled the column. “It was a collective decision,” says Magee. 

Sean Rosen, one of View’s two publishers, told id the magazine had been considering dropping the column for some time. But Rosen says the decision was solely Magee’s. “The editor decided it had run its course, trying to be sensational for the sake of being sensational.” 

Other stories from the special feature: 

“Barely Legal”: Scummy New Generation of Mags Evades Anti-paedophilia Laws by Nate Hendley

Randy for the People: Conservative Ontario City Home to Porn Empire by Nate Hendley

Is Stripping Worth It? by Cynthia Tetley

Those Old Crusaders: Pornography and the Right by Eric Volmers

Feminists for Porn by Nate Hendley

The Sex Trade Down the Ages by Fiona Heath

Id was published in Guelph, Ontario, Canada in the 1990s.

Thursday
Jul022015

The BRCK: Kenyan-Developed Solution to Boost Internet Access 

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

Using the Internet in Africa has its challenges, as anyone who has worked there knows. Issues can include weak Wi-Fi signals, slow Internet service providers, electricity outages and power surges that can damage or destroy sensitive electronic devices.

Power surges (http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/surge-protector3.htm) can occur for a variety of reasons but are usually a sudden surge in the current flowing to the wall outlet from the power mains. They are common in developing countries, and can be tragic for electronic devices.
Most electronic devices are designed for use in developed countries where people can take the power supply, and ubiquitous Internet access, for granted. This affects the way devices are made. Designers will assume many things are available to users and build the electronic devices accordingly. But for users in Africa and across the global South, what seems easy in the developed world is fraught with frustration and wasted time.

This is a big obstacle to economic development and places people in Africa at a disadvantage in the modern world of fast communications.

One initiative is out to transform this experience for the better with a made-in-Africa solution that is being modified based on real-world experience and user feedback.

The BRCK (brck.com) bills itself as “your backup generator for the Internet” and is intended to address the problems of finding a reliable Internet connection, staying online in a power blackout and saving devices from destruction when there is a power surge.

Anyone who has tried to use a laptop computer to upload some photographs in Africa will know the frustration felt when the Wi-Fi signal drops away. The BRCK hunts around for the strongest signal and grabs it so the user can carry on working.

Built to be robust and take knocks and bruises, it is a sleek, black plastic brick-shaped device with the letters BRCK elegantly embossed on the side.
The BRCK can function as a hub for up to 20 devices, with a built-in Wi-Fi signal able to cover multiple rooms (so a team can work off a single Internet connection), a battery that can last eight hours, a 16-gigabyte on board memory hard drive, and software to allow for remote management  by apps on other devices such as smartphones. While it is not able to speed up an already poor connection or increase low bandwidth, it can “scavenge” around to find the strongest signal and hop to it right away. It can work with Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 3G and 4G networks.

If a blackout occurs, it quickly switches to the onboard battery without forcing a re-boot of the computer.

It has been developed in Nairobi, Kenya and the first plastic prototype of the BRCK device was milled at the Fab Lab Nairobi (http://fablab.uonbi.or.ke/) using a 3D fabricator machine.

The BRCK’s makers describe it as a tool “trying to create ubiquitous Internet” and an “enabler of the Internet of things.” The BRCK is designed around the changing way people work and access the Internet, frequently moving from place to place. People now don’t just rely on one device but have many – a mobile phone or smartphone, a laptop, a tablet, an iPod or other device.

A Kickstarter fundraising campaign (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1776324009/brck-your-backup-generator-for-the-internet) gives more details on the origins of the project and offers many ways to support the different stages of development, right up to mass manufacturing of the BRCK.

One application of the BRCK is for research. It could be deployed to gather data at a field site, then connect via the Cloud (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing) to pass data back to a lab at a university in another country for analysis.

The BRCK is being built by Ushahidi (ushahidi.com), a non-profit technology company that makes open source software and made its name with the crowdsourced mapping platform it built during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008. The Ushahidi platform has been deployed around the world since in many crisis situations.

Founded by David Kobia, Juliana Rotich and Erik Hersman, the Ushahidi team is focused on “building tools that improve the way information flows in the world.” It is about making tools to help people communicate in the most difficult places.

BRCK comes with a visually appealing website that makes excellent use of the BRCK’s ebony good looks.

The website boasts: “If it works in Africa, it’ll work anywhere”.

The ongoing development of the BRCK can be followed on the website’s blog: http://www.brck.com/2014/01/they-case-for-engineering-brck-in-africa-part-1/.

“The idea is to build a company around the product rather than just do a one-off product – and to gradually improve the product through new versions,” said BRCKs chief technology officer Reg Orton.

“Our engineers are based in Kenya now – we are not based in China, we are not based in the (Silicon) Valley. What that means for us we are able to go out there and (be) able to see the problems directly.”

The BRCK can be ordered online and will be available for sale soon, according to the website.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: April 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ohM9BQAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+april+2014&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-published-april-2014

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Tuesday
Jun302015

Vietnamese Google Rival Challenging Global Giant

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

Information technologies are creating new business opportunities across the global South. As more and more people gain access to the Internet in one form or another, opportunities to offer them services also increase.

A number of key trends show how the Internet’s profile is being reshaped by the growing number of users from the global South. One of those trends is language. English was the first language to dominate the Internet – but this is changing, according to the latest data.

China has the largest number of Internet users in the world (China Internet Network Information Center) and the Chinese language is the second-most often used online, behind English and before Spanish and Japanese (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm).

While most English-language users turn to the giant Google search engine to look things up on the Internet, Google also has many rivals chasing its tail. In China, Baidu (baidu.com) offers searches in Mandarin using Chinese characters, making the Internet easier to navigate for Mandarin speakers. Elsewhere, Arabic language Internet users are being offered new services and urls using Arabic characters.

In short, the Internet is becoming multilingual, customized and local, and creating new opportunities with it.

One new business in Vietnam is challenging Google with its own locally tailored search engine. Called Coc Coc (http://coccoc.com/) – Knock Knock in English – it has already spent US $10 million to hire 300 staff at its Hanoi base, according to the Associated Press. Whether Coc Coc is successful or not in the long term, it is clear as a business it is already helping the local economy by hiring so many people and investing in Vietnam. Google currently does not have any staff in Vietnam because of its concerns about legal conflict with the government over censorship of content on the Internet, AP reports.

Coc Coc believes it has developed a system that better understands the grammar, syntax and nuances of the Vietnamese language. Another advantage it believes it has over Google is its large presence on the ground in Vietnam. With a headquarters in Hanoi, it can quickly make marketing deals and agreements with content providers. To further its local advantage, Coc Coc has dispatched camera crews and photographers to film and photograph streets and log the details of shops, cafes and businesses – all to make search results more accurate and richer in detail.

The headquarters is spread out over four floors of a downtown office block in Hanoi, and according to the Associated Press has a relaxed atmosphere similar to that found in many places in California’s technology start-up culture.

Coc Coc is a joint Russian-Vietnamese venture and is hoping to ride the fast-growing Asian Internet market by offering a search tool that understands the nuances of the Vietnamese language online. By using algorithms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm) it promises to give a faster and better search experience to Vietnamese-language users. It also uses its knowledge of the local scene to  tailor results to users’ needs.

The plan is to spend US $100 million during the next five years to lure 97 per cent of Vietnamese Internet users to make the switch from Google.

“When I came here, I had some understanding why Vietnam was a good market to beat Google,” said Mikhail Kostin, the company’s chief search expert. “But after living here for one year, I understand the language and market much more deeply. I’m sure it’s right.”

Having a local search engine tool can be a successful approach. The Yandex (http://www.yandex.com/) search engine in Russia beats Google in the Russian-speaking market. In South Korea, there is the Naver (naver.com) search engine.

Google battled it out with the Chinese search engine Baidu in 2010 before leaving the country when Google refused to abide by government censorship guidelines. Baidu in the meantime has become the number one search engine in China and is planning to expand to other markets throughout Asia.

“Google is a foreign company, and they are not here,” said one of the three founders of Coc Coc, Nguyen Duc Ngoc. “We can serve the interests of the local market better.”

Vietnam has been experiencing rapid economic growth since the introduction of the Doi Moi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doi_Moi) economic reforms two decades ago in 1986.  Vietnam is fast becoming an Internet success story, with a third of its population of 88 million (World Bank) (http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/vietnam) now online. Many are accessing the Internet through their mobile phones and electronic devices.

Vietnam connected to the Internet in the 1990s and the infrastructure was built up in the mid-2000s. A national plan that kicked off in 2005 accelerated take-up of the Internet in the country as more and more people accessed the Internet through mobile phones, often at home, rather than just in public Internet centres. One study found 71 per cent of users in major cities were accessing the Internet at home (https://opennet.net/research/profiles/vietnam). One in three people in Vietnam now has access to the Internet. Significantly, the Internet has been an overwhelming success with youth in the main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where 95 per cent of people in the 15-to-22 age group has Internet access.

Optimists point to Vietnam’s large youth population, fast-growing economy and its modern Internet infrastructure as advantages that will boost its Internet economy. This is attracting entrepreneurs and investors from across Asia and around the world working in the field of online content, e-payments systems and other online services.

With Vietnam’s Internet scene on fire, many people and companies are piling in to come up with the Next Big Thing online. Many have failed, but the same is true in every other country where new information technologies have been introduced. The nature of information technology innovation means ideas quickly rise or die depending on whether Internet users find the innovation useful or attractive. Despite great ideas, there are often far too many factors at play to guarantee any one person or company will have a success on their first try. As has happened elsewhere, ideas hatched by small start-ups, if good, are gobbled up by larger companies. Talented and skilled people usually find themselves being chased by other companies.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: August 2013

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YfRcAwAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+august+2013&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-august-2013-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday
Jun252015

Chinese Building Solution for Rapidly Urbanizing Global South

 

The global South is currently experiencing the biggest surge in urban population ever seen in human history. This transformation from urban to rural is happening in many different ways across the global South. Some countries have highly detailed plans and are building new cities from scratch, while other countries feel overwhelmed by their booming urban populations.

By 2025, it is estimated the developing world could become home to 37 megacities with more than 10 million residents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megacity) (The Guardian). Sixty years ago there were just two megacities: New York and Tokyo. Today, there are between 21 and 23, and the UN is forecasting that by 2025 Asia will have nine new megacities. By 2025, the majority of the world’s megacities will be in the global South.

But how will these cities be built? How will they use resources well and ensure the rapidly rising new buildings are safe and healthy?

A Chinese innovator and Internet sensation has developed a way to rapidly build high-density, high-rise structures that are also safe and meet strict earthquake-proofing standards. Building upwards is an efficient way to get more use out of space and to free up land for things like parks.

Just as the first megacities such as New York began building skyscrapers a century ago, going upwards will be the solution many of the new megacities will choose as they feel the pressing twin demands of rising populations and financial restraints.

Based in Changsha, China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changsha), the BROAD Group
(http://www.broad.com/) (http://www.broad.com:8089/english/) has become an Internet sensation for posting videos of it rapidly building skyscrapers. It does this to show off its innovative technologies, which have significantly reduced the time it takes to build high-rise buildings.

The BROAD Group calls itself “an enterprise based on the vision of unique technologies and the philosophy of preserving life.”

The company is a pioneer in making non-electric air conditioning equipment, energy systems, and sustainable building technology.

The company has come a long way since it was started in 1988 with just US $3,000. By 1995, it had shed its debts and loans. It sees its mission as confronting the two major crises facing the world today: atmospheric pollution and global warming. The company hopes to evolve into a social enterprise.

BROAD calls itself a world leader in making central air conditioning powered by natural gas and waste heat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_Group). The company is currently exporting its systems to more than 60 countries and was an official supplier to the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

BROAD has recently been expanding its product range and moving into constructing sustainable buildings. In particular it is developing an expertise in rapid construction techniques. This is important in the modern world as cities across the global South experience population growth and the pressing need to house people and create workplaces efficiently. BROAD is proud of the 15-storey hotel in Dongting Lake in Hunan Province it built in just six days, which became a hit on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjGhHl-W8Wg). After this achievement, BROAD constructed a 30-storey hotel in 15 days.

Part of the BROAD Group, Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) claims to make the “World’s first factory-made building.” BROAD says its buildings are sustainable because they efficiently use recycled construction materials, rely on materials free of formaldehyde, lead, radiation and asbestos and avoid “construction sewage” dust or waste.

BROAD was provoked into making sustainable buildings after the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008 (http://quake.mit.edu/~changli/wenchuan.html). A year after the earthquake, 300 researchers from BROAD developed an earthquake-resistant building technology.

The factory-made building works like this: a “main board” is prepared with a floor and ceiling, ventilation, water supply and drainage, electricity and lighting. This is then placed on a truck and taken to the building site. All the workers need to do on site is assemble the building by screwing in the bolts and finishing it with the painting and other decorating. This makes the time spent assembling the building on site, according to BROAD, just 7 per cent of the total construction hours. This means 93 per cent of the building is prefabricated in a factory compared to an industry norm of 40 per cent.

BROAD’s latest project and biggest challenge is to build Sky City One (http://skycityone.wordpress.com/) – the world’s tallest tower at 220 floors and 838 metres – in Changsha in just 90 days. A mix of residential, commercial and retail space, it will allow between 70,000 and 120,000 people to work and live. The start date could be November 2012 and the building completed by early 2013.

The finished building will be 10 metres taller than the current tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa (http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/) in Dubai.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: October 2012

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zvLBoEfECgUC&dq=development+challenges+october+2012&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsoctober2012issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.