Indeed, WorldSpace is not a total solution in itself, but only part of a
solution in an imperfect situation. I don't see that anybody has yet
promoted it as 'a substitute for the "real thing"'. Thus the risk of
that misperception should not cause us to ignore its existence and its
potential uses.

Arguably, the initial step towards joining the information society is to
receive information, and not to transmit blindly. In the same way, a
newborn's first breath is always to inhale and not to exhale. 
Especially in terms of educating, informing and entertaining, there is
much that can be achieved through being able to merely receive
broadcasts. If this were not the case, then the traditional forms of
media dissemination (ie. radio/TV/print) could never have become as
pervasive as they are now in our more privileged urban areas.

So WorldSpace satellite radio "receivers" bring about inclusivity by
merely offering a new option for reliably receiving high quality audio
and data content in locations hitherto excluded from any of the
traditional media forms. Of course, as with traditional broadcast
media, other options would need to be looked into on a case-by-case
basis to contribute anything in return; but at the outset, this
requirement is not a sine qua non.

So in discussing the use of WorldSpace, I'd suggest it would be more
worthwhile to focus on the following two issues:

(a) The content delivered by WorldSpace needs to be better adapted for
local relevance, but the cost of doing so is too high for local content
developers unless they can secure major subsidies.

(b) The presence of a WorldSpace receiver in a remote rural setting
should be optimised to deliver more than just data connectivity for
websites, as its transmissions reach places where traditional media does
not exist. Its multimodal (audio and video) capabilities ought to be
exploited holistically.

I am a user of WorldSpace radio myself, especially whenever I travel by
car around East Africa. Its little satellite-dish sits perfectly on the
dashboard and is very reliable so long as there are no overhanging
obstructions (trees, bridges, etc.) as the satellite is nearly directly
overhead. You just can't imagine the excitement it generates whenever
people in remote areas get to experience it!

Sadly, the only broadcasts I've heard in Kiswahili -- a language spoken
by an estimated minimum of 60 million people in East Africa -- are on
Voice of Kenya plus the occasional BBC World Service programmes. I am
not aware of any other African languages being available on it in this

I once enquired from local broadcasters as to why they did not seize
this medium to expand their audience. They consistently replied that
the cost of up-loading content was unjustifiably high, especially
compared to the cost of streaming directly onto the Internet. A few
asked me about downloading the audio content for their local broadcasts,
which was quite the opposite of my intentions...

Now, if that is the reality of the situation for the audio side (where
local content is abundant), then the situation for the data side (where
local content is relatively more scarce), is necessarily worse. 
Clearly, WorldSpace have a business model that they must adhere to for
sustainability, so it would be unfair to request them to lower their
rates. But perhaps this suggests that there is room for some sort of
arrangement to sponsor the sharing of channels dedicated to local
content among several small-scale broadcasters and/or web-content


On Wednesday 26 November 2003 23:41, Simon Woodside wrote:

> WorldSpace is a broadcast system. With a WorldSpace system you are only
> capable of receiving data, not sending it. While I think WorldSpace is a
> great and wonderful thing, it's very dangerous if people thinking it's a
> substitute for the "real thing" which is an internet connection that
> allows two-way communication, email, web access, VoIP, web email,
> content creation, content sharing ... none of those are possible with
> WorldSpace.
> So, if you want to be merely an information consumer ... WorldSpace is
> fine. If you want to join the information society, you need something
> more.

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