The World Summit on the Information Society wrapped up today in sunny Tunisia, that bastion of information freedom, and predictably, not a lot happened.
The US still has control over the management of the net, which (and I'm surprised I actually agreed with The Economist) might not be such a bad thing.
Interestingly, everyone at the conference seems to think that maintaining the status quo was a coup and everyone is now sitting around heartily congratulating them selves on a job well done. What job?
The Digital Solidarity Fund, agreed to in a very watered down form at the first phase of the Summit a year ago, has so far managed to raise just over 6 million dollars with which to close the digital divide. So much for digital solidarity.
The one interesting thing to come out of the Summit was an announcement that MIT's Media Lab is intending to put $100 lap tops into production which will be distributed to children in developing countries around the world. I have a few issues with the idea but, all in all, its pretty nifty. They even have a hand crank for emergency battery recharge - I wish my lap top had a hand crank.
The machines will run as well as the $2-3,000 we all love, but won't have as much storage space. They will even form their own wireless network when two or more of them are in the same vicinity.
So WSIS, as a process, seems to have been a tremendous waste of time, but provided a good launching pad for the $100 lap top (which will apparently cost about $110 to manufacture, but let's not quibble) and several other interesting innovations looking to connect the poor world to the digital age.