Community technology is the practice of synergizing individuals, community technology centers, and national organizations with centralized policy initiatives around broadband, information access, education, and economic development.
Many countries have used community technology as a way to improve processes and improve the lives of citizens.
For George Siosi Samuels, Founder of Honā, Managing Director of Faiā, and co-founder of The Pack, community technology is a way to uplift his homeland in the Pacific and, by extension, change the world. He highlights these ventures he has created as part of his personal mission towards bridging gaps between communities and technology.
Utilizing Community Technology in Tuvalu
Samuels aims to help organizations improve technology adoption through a nuanced understanding of culture and community.
One of his greatest projects for his company Faiā is the TNDL (Tuvalu National Digital Ledger) project for the Tuvalu government, a partnership between his company, nChain, and Elas Digital. “The TNDL project is significant because it’s not just a way to help Tuvalu “lift” itself up economically in the future, but it’s also a way of honoring my ancestors.
I’m not particularly interested in the speculative side of Bitcoin tokens, but its actual technology around micropayments. And so, with Tuvalu, we get to showcase what Bitcoin can actually do outside of price speculation.”
Challenges to Adapting Community Technology
While he aims to improve the use of technology in small Pacific islands, such as Tuvalu, these intentions are not without challenges.
“Many in the technology field are great technically, but often fall-short when seeking to roll-out new technologies to non-tech-savvy populations – whether this is internally at a large organization, or externally to normal citizens of a country.”
That is why Samuels sees the need to bridge the gap between communities, organizations, and technology.
“Since my personal fascination is with the intersection of communities and technology, Honā will have a big focus on building a community of productivity-obsessed users who also wish to demonstrate integrity – either personally or professionally. The technology we build here will inform our plans for future community-centric products.”
He emphasizes that in small island nations like Tuvalu, and other developing countries, integrating technology into the community requires much consultation. Organizations who believe that they can “switch on” technologies without a consultative approach end up falling into the territory of techno-capitalism, which often has negative impacts on cultures that are community-centric.
Opportunities Despite the Challenges
George believes that there are many opportunities to be had with implementing community technology despite the challenges. This is why he has made it his mission to explore and integrate. “I believe there is a wealth of opportunity in the Pacific, and it’s my sincerest hope that I can help connect the pathways that lead Pacific nations to leverage future digital economies for their own benefit, reducing the need for foreign aid or assistance. And even more so, use that prosperity to protect their lands, harness their oceans, and balance power.”
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