And here is one more example of the "Digital Society in Practice". My collegaue Øyvind Strømme pointed me to Thomas Friedman's article in the NYTimes. Very inspiring story of social responsibility by the Byrraju Foundation.
At first looks, one is tempted to think that the Societal Digital Infrastructure (SDI) is missing, but it is there; evidently not with the reliability, stability and other -ilities needed for industrialised usage (which is Friedman's point). The design is in place and this looks like a good case for highlighting the relevance of an SDI. I do not think Byrraju are or should be overly concerned about the lack of infrastructure, that will come if one focuses on shaping and running the solution.
There are some interesting scenarios that can play out in taking this to the next level. The one that fascinates me is, EQ meets IQ (more than ET meets IT), where emotions and a desire "to give back" meets intellect, opening for all sorts of life-altering but yet practical solutions. Such solutions will be the proverbial snowballs, that drive the creation of an SDI and fuels the innovation process. As Internet technologies make it possible for expatriates to want to "give back" in more specific ways, we will see some interesting forms of project delivery.
Climate, large distances and a scarce population forced the discipline of Telemedicine to develop and grow in Norway years ago. Telemedicine is a full-fledged informatics discipline (see Norwegian center of Telemedicine) addressing some tough challenges in technology, medicine, health management, sociology etc. Combining this knowledge with knowledge from the maturing solar technology solutions, mobile technologies and video-conferencing technologies can make for some interesting products. Last December, I blogged along similar lines and I thought I was too futuristic; how wrong I was! -- the pace of development is blistering.
So, the democratizational effects of the Internet and IT in general, are shaping interesting societal models that will challenge traditional forms of governance and will increase the collaboration between public sector, the volunteer/NGO sector and the private sector.