e-Talk Radio: Rubin, Howard, 12 September 2000

[article]
Rebroadcast 24 October 2000

lot closer, but yet where people are physically located, and the governments that are controlling them, have to have some sort of a big impact.

Howard: Yeah, and actually an amazing thing is you go back to this agricultural to industrial to information age, network age, world, and you start to take a look at the ability of nations to compete. We'll talk about business competition a little later, I hope. If you look at the ability of nations to compete, if you were going to compete in the industrial age, in fact, you had to do massive amounts of work in terms of your physical infrastructure, in terms of laying, you know, rails, space for railbed, dredging out harbors and reshaping things, and even building the plans for the steel mills and the production. Think about now in the network age, you're a developing nation, an emerging nation, you're sort of in the second tier in terms of global competitiveness. And the issue is what do you have to do to move on? Well, to move on right now, digital infrastructure, wireless telecommunications, high bandwidth. These are not things that require decades of development to make happen. As a matter of fact, a lot of those things are possible very easily by changes in government policy, investments, and things like that. Even the changes in the educational system, to start to produce a techno-savvy work force, can happen much faster than ever before. So just as people talk about business moving at Internet speed, we will start to see nations moving around at Internet speed in terms of global competitiveness. And in fact, the digitization of nations is becoming a major factor, and that's why we've heard about things like the "digital divide" and these becoming summit issues everywhere from the G-8 to the U.N.

Carol: What do you mean by "digital divide"?

Howard: The term "digital divide" has been used a whole lot to sort of, both in a national and international context, to sort of show the gap between sort of the digital "haves" and "have-nots." If you look at a nation with a strong digital infrastructure, telecommunications, high Internet density, and things like that, those are the digital "haves." You have the European nations, in particular Scandinavia, you have the U.S. and Canada, Japan to some extent. And then you start to go to countries like Latin America or Africa and these are nations that are first developing their digital infrastructure, making investments in it, but they'd be at the moment on the other side of the digital divide in terms of their amount of labor they have, in terms of the technology work force, in terms of the digital infrastructure, in terms of their being able to develop intellectual capital and turn it into process and product quickly. So this notion of digital divide has come up with regard to differences between nations. In the U.S., this notion of digital divide has come up very strongly. We're starting to see it in the national elections between states that have and have not, or even segments of the population that do or do not have access to the Internet.

Carol: We've been sitting, feeling pretty good here in the United States. We feel that we're pretty good competitively, that we're industrialized, that we're really ahead of a lot of nations, and I saw a presentation that you did, it was about six months ago, where I was extremely surprised to find out that some of the so-called non-industrial, or the countries that we wouldn't necessarily think

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