Cell Phones are Power in a Flat World

A truly great economics post on the influence of technology on fishermen. In this case the humble cell phone demonstrates the power of transparency in economics.

Washingtonpostindiafishermencellphones
For India’s Traditional Fishermen, Cellphones Deliver a Sea Change

from the article….

"When I have a big catch, the phone rings 60 or 70 times before I get to port," he said.

The
cellphone is bringing new economic clout, profit and productivity to
Rajan and millions of other poor laborers in India, the world’s
fastest-growing cellphone market.

At the beginning of 2000, India
had 1.6 million cellphone subscribers; today there are 125 million —
three times the number of land lines in the country. With 6 million new
cellphone subscribers each month, industry analysts predict that in
four years nearly half of India’s 1.1 billion people will be connected
by cellphone.

That explosive growth has meant greater access to
markets, more information about prices and new customers for tens of
millions of Indian farmers and fishermen.

This brings up several points we discuss at NetSquared such as the role of technology in social change. In this case the cell phone providers provide cell phones for one reason; profit. And that helps the fishermen. Economics are complicated. Profit is frequently the best motive for social change even if social change is an ancillary benefit.

Via Conversations with Dina.