Three years after that, the first regularly broadcasting radio station was transmitting news and recorded music programmes every Wednesday night to a handful of pre-Silicon Valley residents of San José, California who had bought radio receivers before there were stations to listen to.Second, the wireless communication afforded by Marconi's experiment was more than just a technological advance.
First, the innovations that accompanied this early radio transmission were the same ones that enabled modern broadcast radio.
Technology advanced at the pace we grew accustomed to in the 20 century and only five years after Marconi's historic transatlantic broadcast, radio operators on ships in the Atlantic were surprised to hear a human voice emitting from the Marconi-built equipment instead of the dots and dashes of Morse code.
Telecommunications projects are not immune to the white elephant syndrome.
We have all heard stories of communities unable to tap into the telecom wires hanging over their heads because of some minor regulatory or technical oversight, and of hugely expensive telecentres that fall into disuse because of a lack of maintenance skills or that are inaccessible to women because they fail to adopt gender sensitive training or management policies.
It was also an important milestone for the rapid globalization that was one of the most significant phenomena of the last century, and of the large-scale social and economic consequences that accompanied it.
By today's standards, sending the letter S from one side of the Atlantic to the other is a modest achievement, but Marconi's transmission was the first real-time, speed-of-light, global communication.Of these, 62 percent are in North America or Western Europe, home to 10 percent of the world's population.The Asia/Pacific region accounts for almost 31 percent, almost two thirds of them mostly concentrated in a few countries. Sub-Saharan Africa, with roughly the same population as North America and Europe combined, has about one percent of the world's Internet users.Over the past few years there have been countless seminars, studies and statements about it and various related issues such as digital opportunities and Internet for development.Governments have adopted national IT policies and liberalized the telecommunications sector to try to attract investment.A second similarity between the Internet and development issues such as education and healthcare is that local participation is essential if projects are going to address local problems or be attuned to local capacities.As Alfonso Gumucio points out in his contribution to this book (chapter 2), the history of development aid is strewn with the carcasses of white elephants, massive projects that failed because they did not adequately consult with local communities.Hundreds of new NGOs have sprung up in the last decade, first to affordably extend the network to civil society sectors in both industrialized and less-industrialized countries, and later to promote effective use of it.On the intergovernmental level many UN agencies, the G7 (later the G8) group of industrialized countries, the World Bank and several regional bodies have put ICTs and development high on their agenda.The World Summit on the information Society, hosted by the International Telecommunications Union on behalf of the United Nations, is the latest and biggest international effort to focus international attention on the issue.Not surprisingly, the Internet has provided the most active forum for discussion of it - typing digital divide in Google's search engine returns about 459 000 references.