Nepal Communications Shutdown: A Factor in Monarchy’s Demise?

Communication in the mountainous country of Nepal has always been difficult, until the advent of the mobile phones. Of the country’s 28.5 million residents, 46% used mobile phones in 2011, a 61% increase from the year before. So what would happen if the government decided to shut down phone service? Continue reading

Island Connect in the Tuamotus: Satellite, Solar Power and Civil Society

Despite their isolation, technological developments allow residents of Katiu, a tiny coral atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia, to engage as global citizens. The atoll is only 10 square km, 27 km long and 12.5 km wide. Its 286 residents subsist on fishing, copra harvesting and pearl farming. There is no tourism trade, and anything beyond coconut palms, breadfruit, taro, fish, seafood and some fruit must be imported on infrequent cargo ships. Until recently, the atoll was inaccessible except by boat, and islanders had limited communications with the outside world. Continue reading

Thailand Increases Controls on Cyberspace Through Use of Archaic Laws

Memo #193 – Laws meant to protect the monarchy from “defamation” are increasingly being used to suppress free speech and discussion of politics in Thailand, particularly on the Internet. In the last six years, there has been a surge in prosecution of these “lèse-majesté” cases – some estimated as high as 1,500 per cent. Continue reading

Literature in 21st Century China – Harvard Professor David Der-wei Wang (Video Interview)

Memo #70 – What is the status of literature in 21st century China? Harvard professor David Der-wei Wang analyzes this question in a brief video interview. He discusses the impact of the internet, which has become an important medium for the dissemination of politically sensitive works. He mentions that there has been a resurgence of genres such as science fantasy to a prominence not seen since the late Qing dynasty. He talks about the new concept of “Sinophone literature,” which redefines “Chinese literature” as a field determined by language rather than purely by geography. He further touches on important new works, such as Hu Fayun’s novel, “Ruyan@SARS.com,” which was first serialized on the Internet but banned upon its print publication. Continue reading