All right. Things having been altogether too heavy around here of late--for every once in a while, I've got to live up to my reputation as a bomb-thrower--so today we're going to talk about Tom Friedman.
In his latest foray into the mysterious East, Friedman discovers that where there is no power grid, people make provisional arrangements. In that nut is the seed of something interesting. Iraqis rig diesel generators. Friedman's Indians string together chemical batteries. Somewhere surely some bright young thing is writing a very interesting dissertation on decentralized, distributed power generation as an important alternative to vulnerable, antiquated plant-and-grid networks. That's not to suggest that we want a world running on a gazillion half-horsepower lawnmower engines. But surely improvements in battery capacity, in solar conversion . . .
Friedman, meanwhile, has only one thing on the brain:
Here in Ethakota, amid the banana and palm groves, 120 college-educated villagers, trained in computers and English by Satyam and connected to the world by wireless networks, are processing data for a British publisher and selling services for an Indian phone company. They run two eight-hour shifts, but could run three — if only the electricity didn’t go off for six hours a day!There you have it. A green revolution in order to transform more of the world into call centers. We shall conquer the destructive, dirty industrial revolution in order to make telemarketers of "India's 700 million villagers." We shall college-educate the masses so that they can sit at phones and pick their noses while angry Brits rage that they already have checked their TCP/IP settings and enabled cookies. Oh, brave new world! Now if only we could run it 24 hours a day . . .