• Table of contents

    • [+]Preliminaries (3)
    • [+]Introduction (4)
    • [+]Latin America (13)
    • [+]Sub-Saharan Africa (9)
    • [+]Arab World (11)
    • [+]Russia (11)
    • [+]India (11)
    • [+]China (9)
    • [—]Conclusions (6)
    • [+]Appendix (1)



The end, a beginning

We did warn in the introduction that analysing digital publishing in developing countries would be a complex undertaking, although a fascinating and inevitable one. The object of study has shown to be so unpredictable that the research itself leads us to demolish clichés and build conceptual bridges between seemingly unconnected areas. This may give some idea of the task that lies ahead: with highly malleable technologies that never quite crystallize and an immensely varied world that is literally developing, digital publishing in the South is an area where everything remains to be done.

But if technologies evolve and local contexts are unstable, won’t this nascent industry suffer the same fate of extreme fragility? Won’t electronic publishing in developing countries be left too exposed to the vicissitudes of history and the discretion of the American, European and Japanese colossuses, regardless of whatever its protagonists might do? No, not really, insofar as the actors from the South can see that understanding the local context is a decisive factor, even in the electronic age. We are not referring here to geography or climate, but rather to the different ways of interacting with technology that exist in each region; ways formed by history, language, culture, religion and politics, among other aspects which mean that if Taobao fights in the river – that is to say, on its own territory – it can defeat the giant eBay. To come back to the reference to Genesis which – as we pointed out at the beginning – is condensed in the Apple logo, here we could allude to another biblical image and suggest that the more the big players from the North try to set themselves up as the only universal law and raise their digital towers to the sky, the more obvious it will become that global electronic publishing is in actual fact made up of a Babelesque plurality of grammars and completely heterogeneous industries.

We conclude this report, therefore, by emphasizing the need to never lose sight of local particularities. At this point in time, such a warning might sound like a redundant platitude, if it weren’t for the fact that this and other research on digital technologies in developing countries might give rise to highly dissimilar programmes. Respecting the specificity of each region means paying attention to technical issues, but without being overawed by the power of the tool. It is a matter, then, of putting the focus on the true fixed point that lies behind all the transformation and the multiplicity: with the passage of time, technologies become obsolete, but people remain, and that is where the greatest effort should be concentrated.


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