Saturday, July 05, 2008

The advance of the mobile phone

The BBC Web site has a photogallery illustrating the advance of the mobile phone in Afghanistan.
We could interpret this in more than one way, of course. On the one hand it is the advance of Western culture through its technology over a developing society, in the process damaging cultures and structures which can hardly resist. There's probably something in that.

On the other hand, the pictures tell another tale - the assimilation of the technology into a culture. It may at first look odd, or even amusing, to see the call centre operators wearing the headress, just as some people seem to expect that as a priest I will know little about the Internet, and Digg and Facebook and Twitter or whatever it may be. They expect the clerk in holy orders still to hold a quill and perch at a writing desk.

Perhaps these photos instruct us that our technological advances, once made, are not bound to our culture or our way of life or our beliefs or even to our values.

The proliferation of the mobile phone and the Internet may make it harder for governments to stifle debate, but they don't guarantee a particular political system either.

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