The challenges we face – The celebration of twenty years of Philippine Internet or in Social-Media-Speak or #PHNET20 has come and gone. Through out Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines it was celebrated with forums, meet-ups and celebration. Like was the timeline across social media platforms sprang up with remembrances and celebrations of yesteryears. How was one introduced to the Net: How one’s Digital Cherry was popped was retold. There were also status messages and posts about why was one was one still on the Net and why was it important that it be done: A blogger blogs; A Twitterer tweets; A Facebooker facebooks; A Youtuber youtubes; and an Instagramers instagrams or latestagtams … So on and so forth. All of these are fine and dandy as they say in some parts of the world. The most significant celebration I witnessed was a series of speeches over dinner last Saturday Night at the #PHNET20 Dinner of Smart at the Conservatory of the Manila Pen.
If I am not mistaken the speeches were said almost exactly at Earth Hour. And the speeches came from the pioneers of the Philippine Internet. Like most things it reminisced and celebrated the Internet but more important for me was that it also cautioned how the growth of the Philippine Internet should be treated and the challenges of making the Internet more accessible to the greater part of our Nation.
Specifically, If you were to list down and recapitulate the things said it would be:
First, There was our response and limit things that we cannot control nor understand. The warning here is not to adapt a slash and burn policy with regards to the Net and more IMPORTANTLY this also advises us to UNDERSTAND AND LEARN THE NET BEFORE WE ACT ON IT. Nothing proves the importance of this with the debacle and controversy that surrounded the Cybercrime Law.
Second, The challenge of bridging our DIGITAL DIVIDE. It was said that from time and time we hear and read that we are the social media capital of the world, but only THREE OUT OF TEN FILIPINOS ARE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET. This is the DIGITAL DIVIDE that must be filled up: This is the challenge that must be addressed.
Personally I am happy that this was said. I am overjoyed that the Pioneers of the Philippine Internet said these things. These thins are often not said online or even offline. We tend to push it aside. We tend to ignore and not mention it. We block it out.
The THREAT OF CONTROLLING THE INTERNET and the DIGITAL DIVIDE in the Philippines should be mentioned and talked about. It should be DISCUSSED and ACTED UPON. We should not forget these things. Yes market forces might solve this – Smart talked about delivering the Internet by sachets: Making it more affordable. And the Philippine Government through the DOST has implied on several occasions that the country will be connected by 2016. This is well and good but it is important that we take a close look at all of these things and act when and if needed.
We need to think beyond the bubble of three out of ten Filipinos connected to the Internet.
Here is a good infographic about the State of the Philippine Internet by Lin Lhe.