Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A political consequence of connecting rural places with, well, everywhere else

In this case, the rural place is in China. Here's the lede from Michael Wines' story, under the headline, "Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online":
There was a time when the story of the 21-year-old waitress who fatally stabbed a Communist Party official as he tried to force himself on her would have never left the rural byways of Hubei Province where it took place.

Instead, her arrest last month on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter erupted into an online furor that turned her into a national hero and reverberated all the way to China’s capital, where censors ordered incendiary comments banned. Local Hubei officials even restricted television coverage and tried to block travel to the small town where the assault occurred.

On Tuesday, a Hubei court granted the woman, Deng Yujiao, an unexpectedly swift victory, ruling that she had acted in self-defense and freeing her without criminal penalties.
Note the rural angle: Technology is connecting rural China to the rest of the country--and the world--with social and political consequences.

I heard a news report today about Britain's plan for universal broadband in that nation by 2012. These stories leave me wondering why broadband in rural areas is not a higher priority in the United States. See an earlier post on the topic here.

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