The two alternatives to the monasterisation of the World wide web

Saint Michael’s Abbey, in the Susa Valley, Piedmont. Source: Wikipedia.

In Medieval Europe, information was physically concentrated in very few secluded libraries and archives. Powerful institutions managed them and regulated who could access what. The library of the fictional abbey that is described in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose is located in a fortified tower and only the librarian knows how to navigate its mysteries. Monasteries played an essential role in preserving written information and creating new intelligence from that knowledge. But being written information a scarce resource, with the keys to libraries came also authority and power. Similarly, Internet companies are amassing information within their fortified walls. In so doing, they provide services that we now see as essential but they also contravene the two core principles of the Internet: openness and decentralisation.


Monday, 7 May 2018


Erik Hersman, has recently created a site called Africa Signals. And it is not just a site: it is a wiki site. The site aims to collect and share mobile phone and Internet rates across Africa. (I have found about this site here)

Now. In my experience, one of the many reasons that makes poor a poor farmer is coping with a non-functioning market (I said it two posts ago). So I can just imagine how helpful would be to have a tool to make market work better.

Creating a wiki page to collect and share the price of one particular agricultural product in one particular time in one particular place would be great. But succeeding in integrating such a site with the mobile phone network would be even better.  How to do this? The government of Rwanda is moving in the very same direction without creating a wiki site. (It is difficult to imagine a government managing wikis). But bureaucracy is not something we usually associate with the words efficiency and effectiveness, especially in poor countries. And in any case we do not really need a government to make a site like this work.

Just think about a wiki site collecting and sharing data through sms. Actually Twitter, without the wiki interface, is doing it right now. So, think about a farmer receiving a message with updated price information the night before market day and, on this information, taking his/her decisions. And think about a farmer sending via sms the price information to the wiki site after leaving the market.

We can imagine the farmer to pay for the sms he or she receives and, on the contrary, we can imagine sending sms back to the site to be completely free.  And we can imagine some volunteers to be the administrators of the site (just like Wikipedia).

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Twitter: frbailo




  • Advent of 2021, Day 5 – Setting up Spark Cluster
    Series of Apache Spark posts: Dec 01: What is Apache Spark Dec 02: Installing Apache Spark Dec 03: Getting around CLI and WEB UI in Apache Spark Dec 04: Spark Architecture – Local and cluster mode We have explore the Spark architecture and look…Read more › Continue reading: Advent of 2021, Day 5 – Setting up Spark Cluster
  • Easy Interpretations of ADF Test in R
    This post shows how to interpret the results of the augmented Dickey-Fuller (ADF) test easily with the help of Hank Roark's R function. His R function provides kind descriptions of the results of a unit root ADF test. I explains why this description... Continue reading: Easy Interpretations of ADF Test in R
  • Writing Functions in R: Working Example One
    A. Background We usually want to write reusable code that is compact and could be utilized in a number of use cases. That involves writing user defined functions that can take particular input values, perform some set of steps, and returns an output. I... Continue reading: Writing Functions in R: Working Example One
  • Advent of 2021, Day 4 – Spark Architecture – Local and cluster mode
    Series of Apache Spark posts: Dec 01: What is Apache Spark Dec 02: Installing Apache Spark Dec 03: Getting around CLI and WEB UI in Apache Spark Before diving into IDE, let’s see what kind of architecture is available in Apache Spark. Architecture…Read more › Continue reading: Advent of 2021, Day 4 – Spark Architecture – Local and […]
  • Why R? 2021 Invited Talks
    This year we are organizing the fifth edition of Why R? 2021 conference. As the meetings are held in English we invite R users from all over the globe! The program is available on our channel. Go and check what lecture... Continue reading: Why R? 2021 Invited Talks

RSS Simply Statistics

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Being Alive
    We saw Company on Broadway last weekend. It was the day that Sondheim passed away, so it was very sad. The show itself was directed in a broad, over-the-top sort of way. Later we found a version on youtube and … Continue reading →
  • DeclareDesign
    Political scientists Graeme Blair, Jasper Cooper, Alexander Coppock, and Macartan Humphreys write: DeclareDesign is a system for describing research designs in code and simulating them in order to understand their properties. Because DeclareDesign employs a consistent grammar of designs, you … Continue reading →
  • They call him Dr. Manhattan because he updates in one dimension at a time.
    Knowing that I’m a fan of Stanislaw Ulam, X pointed me to an announcement of a recent movie, Les Aventures d’un Mathématicien, par Thor Klein. I was curious so I googled and found this inadvertently hilarious blurb: The warmhearted story … Continue reading →