Regarding Richard Goering's March 21 interview with Eric Brewer (page 1): Misguided technologists like Mr. Brewer make plain that what the Third World truly needs is to be saved from the First World. Mr. Brewer's sunny solutions may hold appeal for technocrats. But to anyone who has actually lived in the developing world, his ideas are humorous at best and destructive at worst.
In the same breath, Mr. Brewer says that "First World technology is not a good fit" for the needs of developing nations but "rural connectivity" is the first problem to solve. Either he has extremely limited feet-on-the-ground experience in the developing world or he is too engrossed in his First World life to understand Third World realities.
Desperately poor regions simultaneously battle hunger, disease, illiteracy, high birth rates, corrupt governance, unfortunate geography and, quite often, military violence. To suggest that any flavor-of-the-month technology has even the most remote relevance for solving these underlying problems is to trivialize them.
Mr. Brewer proposes "rural kiosks," an idea that was obviously hatched after a satisfying day at the mall. His further suggestion that a farm tractor is unaffordable for a lone farmer, but not for a village, is a ridiculous fallacy. But even if he could identify a single rural village that could afford a $175,000 John Deere, Mr. Brewer does not explain how he would employ all of the farm workers that the tractor would displace. Oh, wait-they would run the flatbed scanners at the Wi-Fi kiosks.
Dreamers like Mr. Brewer could accomplish more lasting and tangible results by focusing their efforts and resources on less sexy and more realistic solutions to the many ills of developing nations.
Mindspeed Technologies Inc.