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So old, in fact, that it's often problematized in many fields that study different aspects of human culture.
One of the problems with a theory of sociocultural evolution is that it confounds often whimsical changes in human culture, which happen often within generations and that can have tumultuous effects on a given culture, with the slower, biological changes in the longer-term that Darwin had in mind. From this confounding of biology with the more abstract, higher-level semiotic systems that define human and, to a significantly reduced-degree, other animal cultures, comes a belief that human culture and the power structures that come about as a result of it, follow a well-defined and universal series of evolutionary mile-markers on their way to "civilizational" status.
In fact, A current but ever-present, historical example of the problems with these theories is the flawed dichotomy between civilization and barbarism (see here and here).
So, essentially, what Hawking has re-discovered is an age-old trope that saw a very real, and conspicuous apogee during the European wars sof Colonization and continues to this day (here, here and here). But in fact, this age-old dichotomy is not common only to the western world--the Mexica (or "Aztecs") and their Andean counterparts, the Inca, conceived of many smaller groupings of indians near and beyond their periphery as savages and barbarians.
If there's an important distinction to be made in many of these civilization vs. the savage examples, it's that the technology that humans create can in fact follow an evolutionary trajectory (ie, one that gives us a better chance at survival as a species), but that the culture that produces it may arrive at different stages of that evolutionary path from wildly disassociated and subjective changes and vacillations.
"Wherever you travel in Africa you are visually bombarded with commercials from the main telecom operators. Even in the most remote rural areas and places you'll see the characteristic 'top-up' poster offering you to refill your cellphone with 'airtime' (credits). Houses of shopkeepers are painted in the phone companies colours. Cell towers are erected everywhere providing excellent connection. Virtually everybody you meet owns a phone, plan to get one soon or share it with others."
Indeed, a recent blog post at crisscrossed.at (this post largely summarizes it) shows recent studies with findings that in countries such as Kenya,
"The average Kenyan spends over 50% of their disposable income on mobile communication. For the bottom 75% of the population, that figure goes up to 63.6%."
These figures are incredible, and continue to astound even when considered as a percentage of overall income (over one quarter of total income for the lower 75%!). Are there readers out there with experiences and stories about the impact of cell-phone usage in any part of Africa? I would be most interested in those folks that work in ICT4D, but as the film shows, the anecdotal evidence is bounteous and easy to spot, even in the most remote parts of Africa. Of course, mobile usage comes with its list of challenges and drawbacks, too many to list here, but have a look for yourself (linked from linked blog post, above)."
Link to Original Source
My question to you, my dear slashdotters, is whether these concerns are valid given not only the evermore dynamic nature of FOSS efforts but, specifically, those concerning cloud-computing solutions. I can think of a couple of examples myself such as Google's recent unveiling of the "Wave protocol," and Mozilla Lab's Weave. Of course, neither of these necessarily aim to offer full-fledged, productivity and collaboration suites, but certainly solid examples of the components that would make up such an offering are readily available in the FOSS world and, of course, space is ever cheaper, both physical and virtual--think remote backups, such as those offered by Amazon's S3 Service, among others. So, what say ye open-source proponents, should we fear the great cloud in the sky?"
On that, should 1MB/s be considered Broadband? Either way, I'd say anything over the standard, consumer-level ISDN speeds of yore (ie, 128kbps) should be considered "broad".