Coming back from Asia, a few questions raised by mobile and connectivity for mankind.

I write this post in the flight coming back from Mandalay to Bangkok after 6 weeks in Asia.

From Lhasa to Gigatse in Tibet, from Beijing to remote villages of the Dong tribes, from Osaka to world wide heritage villages, and from Yangon to calm Inle lake, a few thoughts about our connectivity.

  • first, mobiles are everywhere, in pagodas for taking pictures, in markets for waiting for the customers playing games or listening to music.
  • Now Chinese devices can be purchased at a quite cheap 50 dollars price, and 1 dollar basic subscription per month.
  • So, any generation wants its mobile and be part of the game.
  • It’s a little like Bali, Shanghai, Mandalay covered in the streets by bikes twenty years ago and now crowded with motorbikes coming from China and cheap tiny cars from Japan. Let’s say it gives more freedom. People save time, gain efficiency, can better be connected to their beloved and family.
  • - it can raise a few questions looking at monks in Tibet using an expensive iPhone. Questions about wealth but also the impermanent and changing times…
  • - however, speaking about social networks, we should think it’s helping the debate and progress hopefully in the democracy trend.
  • In Mandalay, guides we met were first comparing with friends in other countries what was their situation in health, insurance and retirement. They also were connected to local guides in ethnic tribes seeing that neither of the 2 big parties, even if they were supporting the Nobel Prize, was appreciated in this little villages, ready to vote for their local leader on the 8 th of November.
  • So, somewhere , facebook especially is helping people to debate and to keep their connection.
  • - now, let’s look at a Western tourist in the different countries.
  • In China, although enjoying a good wifi in hotels, he understands he doesn’t know anyone on WeChat, except a few friends in Shanghai. Second that Twitter and especially Messenger and Whatsapp are part of our lives, and he feels a little naked, cut from his tribe and community.
  • And when he discovers that he has to use Yahoo! for search and that links don’t work most of the time, and that his Google gmail doesn’t work, he feels isolated.
  • So living in China and being an expatriate is not a walk in the park, else you need to settle in Hong Kong.
  • In Japan, you feel connected everywhere, from the ferry station in far away Naoshima, to any restaurant proposing a wifi, the Osaka airport, or the Shinkansen… And we have still progress to do in France.
  • Then in Myanmar, you feel good about the government letting social networks then you hear a story about bloggers in prison because of what they said on Facebook and you feel that the situation is more complex than what it looks.
  • You rediscover there is wifi …and wifi, in hotels waiting hours to synchronise your mails, send a picture to your parents ( not mentioning a 6 seconds video ) and see on Skype the. freezed image of your boys in Montreal in the University with full speed internet… And think that our life is definitely connected for the worst ( as we depend on it as essential to it ) and for the best.

I strongly believe that connecting remote areas thanks to the efforts of Gafa and telecoms companies is a good thing, and could help us for awareness of the key topics of our world : water, food, safety, and education on a sustainable planet.

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