Ethics and law – weeks 4 and 9

  • Investigate and describe (in your blog) an illustrative case of digital divide in your country

Although Digital Divide is a bit more of a social problem, I do have an issue that has arisen due to geographical difference in Estonia. Furthermore, it is an issue that I personally am confronted with. Over the years I have tried out many different internet service providers (ISP) and finally found myself the most reliable one concerning constant speed and availability. Now that I have been using the connection for a number of years, the ISP’s came uot with new and improved connection speeds. The amount needed to pay monthly was very reasonable and I took great interest in the offer. But what turned out, was that I am not eligible for the offers of the companies. The main reason being that I am living in an area where there are no new or large apartement buildings. Therefore the infrastructure will not be updated in my area. When consulting with the ISP on the issue of timeframe or rather, when will the area be getting the necessary improvements, the answer was “possibly within the next four years”. Four years is a lifetime in the development of digital technology. So I am left with two options, to buy an apartment in a new building somewhere, whitch I am not going to do, or switch to an ISP that is inferior in my mind.

  • Analyse and describe (in your blog) Internet availability in your country. How big is the availability difference for urban and rural regions? Do you consider this a problem?

Nowadays, internet availability has no limitations or restrictions in Estonia. Mainly because of the development of WIFI areas EVERYWHERE and also the “attack” of dongles. Using a dongle is quite cheap in estonia and thanks to a relatively good range of 3,5G networks one is able to connect to the internet everywhere. There is always the issue of the connection speed, but that is mainly down to technology. To look at the availability of internet services to people without access to a PC or a personal laptop, I think we are improving. For example, a computer can be accessed for free in many large libraries. There isnt a large number of internet cafes around and the main reason being that everyone who has the necessity to use internet at a public location already has a portable device available, may it be a phone or a laptop.

  • For Estonians: compare the current situation in Estonia to the four scenarios of “Estonia 2010”. Which one is the closest to the reality?
  • Looking at the four possibilities, I do see a strong resemblance to the final one, which is “Grand Slam” – the best realisation of both geographical location (transit) and innovative and educational potential. “Innovation/ICT Estonia”. Transit has been our bread for a long time and we cannot argue with the innovation part. Although the amount of transit has declined in the past years because of certain “monumental” issues, it is bound to pick up again. Also we have the educational potential, but thusfar it has not been realised and needs some very long steps to be taken, in order to bring it up to standards.

  • How important do you deem the social cohesiveness (or caring) in reaching ubicomp?
  • I do see it as an important part. Firstly the connection needs to be established between the participants and therefore better results can be produced. Secondly trust, which is very important in providing security and movement of relevant information as well as the legality and legislation concerning it.

    • Study the GNU GPL and write a short blog essay about it. You may use the SWOT analysis model (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).

    As a strength I would bring out the difference between providing rights rather than issuing restrictions concerning the use of software. Proprietary software allows the user to perform certain tasks with it, but providing rights to do something, as the GNU GPL states. It allows users to act out and modify the software according to their needs. Also the GPL license provides the opportunity to benefit from the enhancements of the community of users. The rights have to remain the same when publishing a new and improved version of the software. The beneficial side includes the opportunity for use of the software with significant savings compared to proprietary software. It is indeed a two sided coin when looking at the reliability of proprietary and GPL licenced software, but if a community using the software is up to standards, the reliability will increase significantly.

    As a con, I would bring out the intuitive thinking towards “free software”. If something is free, it cannot be a trustworthy and reliable product. Therefor the acceptance and trust in a software might be cold. A threat might lie in the use of the software because of the deficiencies that lie within the code. If it is supposed to be free and support for the software is commercialized than it loses the point of owning the software. One might as well go with the proprietary one and use the support included within the price of the product. And when paying for the product, it seems logical that you get what you pay for. So the support and enhancements are there and will keep coming.

    • Find a good example of the “science business” described above and analyse it as a potential factor in the Digital Divide discussed earlier. Is the proposed connection likely or not? Blog your opinion.

    I would bring out the accessibility of different scientific works and papers that one might need or want to read in order to better their studies. I have encountered the issue quite often. When searching for relevant scientific articles on one subject you always come across the relevant information that is the foreword for an article. But in order to be able to read the article, one must pay a number of mostly dollars to get a piece of information. Furthermore the article might be a bit different than you expected and not contain the various facts that you were looking for. So by paying 5 dollars an article for example might become a hefty sum after finishing one research paper. The digital divide is here also, because if you do not have the means to access the material, you have to use information that is mostly five of more years old and that can affect the outcome of the product a lot.

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