[This week’s Communications column for the Vanuatu Independent.]
It’s axiomatic that in our so-called Information Society, improving communications is synonymous with improving people’s quality of life. Easier access to information is generally accepted as a good thing.
Far be it from me to gainsay the truisms that keep me in pocket money. But I do enjoy being wrong.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my time here in Vanuatu is that trends and patterns are not so universal as they sometimes seem. Things that are self-evident elsewhere in the world should not be taken for granted here. Society, geography, economy and a few dozen other differentiating factors make Vanuatu unique in important ways.
Received wisdom, even from the leading lights of development theory, often does more damage than good if it’s not leavened with a solid grounding in local conditions. And that’s why I’ve been waiting with bated breath for an upcoming report by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) on the social effects of mobile telephony in Vanuatu.