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Outside the net: Kiribati and the knowledge economy

Sofield, T.H.B. (2000) Outside the net: Kiribati and the knowledge economy. In: Sudweeks, F. and Ess, C., (eds.) Cultural attitudes towards technology and communication : proceedings of the Second International Conference on Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication, Perth, Australia, 12-15 July 2000. School of Information technology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, pp. 3-26.

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The Information and Communications Technologies of the last three decades have revolutionized the way in which societies and economies interact on both a global and a domestic scale, with concomitant impacts on the ways in which business is conducted and people and communities interact. A series of studies undertaken by the World Bank from 1997 to the present suggest that those countries which do not take up to the fullest possible extent the technologies now available and enter what has been termed the 'Knowledge Economy' will be 'left behind' in the same way as the Third World which did not experience the industrial revolution. Two of the distinguishing characteristics of the Knowledge Economy however are that first, unlike the industrial revolution it does not require the same massive injections of capital into physical plant and R&D, and second, that countries may 'leapfrog' into the Knowledge Economy without having gone through industrialization. Many such developing countries (Mauritius is a prime example) have taken that leap and are now functioning effectively in and with cyberspace. However, not all countries are participating equally in this interconnected world and this paper examines one country which has not taken up the challenge of the Knowledge Economy -the Republic of Kiribati which straddles the equator in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati is an island nation, and its people are of the sea, with fishing as the mainstay of their subsistence lifestyle. Nets are part of every-day life - but the Net is outside their world. It is suggested that the combination of a conservative culture and a paternalistic form of government -itself a reflection of Micronesian cultural values -combine to create an environment where ITC is not pursued actively - or indeed at all. There are significant cultural and socio-political barriers that inhibit the uptake of ITC and some of these factors are explored in this paper.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: School of Information technology, Murdoch University
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