There is already a global network of inter-linked systems. You can learn how to use it in a few hours.
The cost of sending Information per page is very much cheaper than second class mail and is usually delivered in minutes or hours instead of days or weeks.
We now have a new medium of connection between people who wish to develop a new strategy for living in today's world and addressing some of the issues we are all concerned about.
In recent years electronic communications have become easier to use and cheaper than ever before. New technologies linking small powerful computers are giving us cable, satellite, radio and telephone communications that can be used locally, nationally and internationally by one person businesses, small organisations, labour unions, campaign groups, minority communities and individual people.
The watershed of prices and ease of use has now made this available to everyone in the richer countries of the world. It is no longer confined to national or local governments and multinational and other large companies. It is like were are leaning to read and write, it is a new energy to use for good or ill...
At the moment, basic computer literacy is needed to make use of the equipment and software. Within ten years, even cheaper simpler equipment will be available. Anyone who can push a few buttons will be able to use it. It will be so cheap that even in the poorer countries ordinary individuals will have access to global resources like e-mail and networked satellite education services...
So why not wait for ten years when it will be cheaper and easier to learn how to use? Why go through the learning process to become just a little bit computer literate?
One reason is so that we can adapt the changes that this new technology is causing. If we wait and watch, our lives will be changed by the new technology. If we can learn how to use it now, we can shape this new technology to human needs. If we don't, the chances that it offers for social and cultural development will be diminished and we will experience the changes as difficulties.
The technology is partly governed by the big investment and electronics multi-nationals. They have profited by the way it unexpectedly developed, so that no one organisation dominates the industry indefinitely. In some ways now that the technology has been invented and released there have been unpredictable developments. Traditional commercial competition between nations, systems and businesses has lead paradoxically, to standardisation, simplification, much better equipment, lower prices and lower running costs.
The costs are now better than traditional methods of communication. At present the equipment costs between £500 to £1500 for a complete system, plus a small subscription fee to a service provider. At a basic level you also have to have access to a good public telephone system and you have pay the bills for the calls. In the next phase of development you will just pay a subscription. So that a moderate user may spend £10 to £20 per month at this moment in time. In many countries round the worlds these basics are serious obstacles to participation for the vast majority of the population. Even the social provision of such facilities in schools, public libraries and other institutions is beyond the budget of many poorer countries.
In ten years time we will have arrived at the point at which the technology will be all around the world from the smallest village to the lone traveller miles from anywhere. Machines of that time will be small, look like a book and will act as a telephone, computer and a library. they will be able to connect to anywhere in the world. They will cost the same as a TV, or a portable hi-fi system, or to put it another way, less than a new bicycle (£200?). One of the biggest problems in introducing these technologies to poorer people and societies is the cost of the screens and the amount of electricity to run them. In the past two or three years for entirely different reasons these technical limitations have been overcome. Today's yuppie notebook computer colour screen, costing £1500 extra on the price of a machine will evolve to a device of similar function and appearance costing less than £50.00
The changes that this technology will bring will be profound. It will bring to an end the dominance of printed material in every sphere of life where it is currently important. It will bring literacy, higher education and sophisticated services to the most isolated places on Earth. We will change the way we learn, educate, work and interact with each other.
Knowledge and communication will be available to all of us in ways that 20 years ago could only be described as science fiction. The price of education will be only 10% of what it was only 10 years before. Phone calls will cost 10% of what they do today - in real terms...