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The Bangla village way of Web 2.0

The Web 2.0 meme is percolating through all manner of media and has now reached as far as Bangladesh.

The Web 2.0 meme is percolating through all manner of media and has now reached as far as Bangladesh, as this article from the Daily Star newspaper shows.

While much of the article is explanatory boilerplate, where it gets interesting is in its exploration of how Web 2.0 can benefit "Banglas". If Bangladesh can beat Australia at cricket, who's to say they can't compete on the global stage in the new Web?

The section on how Bangladesh can benefit from Web 2.0 initiatives starts off with a call to arms for open source developers, with two issues being at the forefront: training and language localisation. It mentions the Bangladesh Open Source Network, and there are other organisations like Ankur for GNU/Linux users, a mailing list for Ubuntu, BIOS for open source in general, Ekushey for free computing projects, and there is a localised version of Wikipedia (warning: needs the Bangla Unicode script).

The applications that the article's author, Ihtisham Kabir, suggests are also fascinating. And the problems they need to solve are far more earthy: smalltown corruption, saving the environment from poverty-induced ruination, and bolstering the fundamentals of democracy in a culture not used to clean, free elections. And they're still positive about how the Web can help.

Note that there is a natural fit between the Bangladeshi tendency to do things as groups or communities, and the emphasis on virtual communities in Web 2.0.

I think this is a key insight into how 2.0 projects can work. Where there is an existing tendency among a subsection of society to form cohesive social groups, 2.0 technology can enable that where older societal institutions have broken down. It would be difficult to force that kind of thing if the people didn't have a common interest or need in the first place, but if you can identify that interest of need then that's half the battle won.

If it takes non-English speakers from a dirt-poor country that much effort to immerse themselves in this new way of thinking, and they're still keen as mustard (or ghee), then what excuse do you have?