Statistics and the Internet

An officemate forwarded a link to Internet Usage and Statistics in Asia from Internet World Stats. Data presented there collates internet usage against population figures of each asian nation to derive the percentage of the population using the internet, the percentage of the population of internet users among the internet users in Asia and the percentage of growth of internet users in each country from 2000 to 2007.

The Asian Netizen

If the numbers are to be believed, Asia takes up 36% of the world’s internet usage pie and has outpaced the rest of the world in terms of the growing number of users from 2000 to 2007. Though I didn’t have time to do much “research” on it’s sources, I think the data are pretty self-justifying if not self-explanatory for the following reasons among others:

  1. IT services have been steadily going Asia’s direction. India’s BPO sector has cashed in on the west-to-east movement of a lot of IT services during the previous years as a consequence of globalization. In fact its dominance in IT remains one important factor in its economic development.
  2. Manufacturing has been a familiar suite in Asia in the past two decades. We’ve seen China’s rapid economic rise because of manufacturing among others. Also we’ve seen Taiwan dominate the semiconductor industry in just about the same period.
  3. Research and development has been given significant and serious attention by China. In the past year for instance, the number of application for patents in China has already exceeded those in the U.S.
  4. The rise of Asian economies has started and continues to translate to a new market for internet users. With the record growth of economies in the region after the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) in 1997, Asia has emerged as a significant market in technology usage.

A lot of those points were actually noted previously in a previous blog entry here.

It wasn’t surprising to see Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan having more than 60% of their population utilizing the information superhighway as these countries apart from being big spenders in IT, have been using technology to their advantage for as long as I can remember.

The Philippine Internet Horizon

The same site features data and information regarding the Philippine internet and telecommunications scene.

Before 1995 PLDT controlled most of the telephone industry in the country. One of the policies during the Ramos administration before the AFC was the new telecommunications policy act in 1995. The said policy deregulated telecommunications so as to get coverage to a greater area of the country. It somehow got results as in 1992 telephone lines got to only 1% of the country whereas it steadily increased to 4% by the end of 1999.

Internet usage on the other hand has seen a rapid increase in the recent years. Back in 2000, only 2.6% of the Philippine population made use of the internet compared to 9.3% in 2005 and 16.0% in 2006 if the figures there are to be believed.

Modern-day Trends

IT Anyone?

While the IT-sector of the Philippine economy has undoubtedly grown, I never thought the figure’s currently pegged at 400,000 related jobs from 8,000 last 2000. That is if co-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, Cesar B. Bautista is to be believed.

In an Infotech article written at PDI today, he spoke of a positive outlook for the country’s BPO services sector as something “to overtake India” in the near future. This as he cites a Frontier Strategy Group report released early this month as the reason for the optimism.

I hoping that the present crop of IT workforce could stand up to the challenge-if ever there really is going to be one.

What was that again?

A PC World article featured at Yahoo news tells of the effect of frequent mobile phone usage that is brain slowdown. The result of a study on 300 persons for nearly two and a half years indicated that the slowdown was still considered normal though.

However plans on expanding the study this time for a longer period of study on 17,000 people, is already on the drawing board.

Now that’s something definitely worth looking into as mobile phone usage has made it to the just about any common man’s routine. That and the fact that society adapted to it so quickly that just a decade ago, only the most affluent in this third world country could be seen flipping their phones in public, all point to a possible health hazard to a mobile generation of humans.

The Long Way Home

So the average L.A. driver gets to spend the longest time in traffic according to a Reuters report on the 10 worst metropolitan traffic in the U.S. In particular, those in L.A. waste 72 hours annually in traffic, (that’s 3 whole days of a year spent in traffic alone.) Runner-ups include (unfortunately) San Francisco, Washington D.C., Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arllington area, San Diego, Houston, Detroit, San Jose and Orlando in that order. Read the rest of the whole article here.

I’d like to see an independent study come up with something on Metro Manila traffic to give L.A. a run for its money though. :))

I Want My Money Back

One of the reasons why I keep few personal stuff besides not wanting to spend for something I won’t use often is that protection for consumer rights here in the Philippines still has to go a very long way. How many times has the mediocrity of products and services been read or heard?

Sadly I’ve had my share of things such as the shrug of the shoulder, inefficient support and downright defective products and service. The thing is protection for small-time public consumers is still practically non-existent here even if service providers are given the green light to clamp you down with an exclusive contract for a good number of months.

In a society whose government does strive to protect the voter’s interest, some steps on complaining do get results. Looking at that article, it’s not hard to see how much consumer protection in this country still has to improve on.

The Week’s Worth Elsewhere

Plowing Through Plowshares

This view reminds me of a fact my former professor told our class once: Land Reforms and other agricultural programs’ benefits often have the flaw of not actually being felt by the most destitute farmers for whom the endeavors are supposed to be for. That Pakistani viewpoint highlights just how much the centuries-old problem still remains. Talk about people remaining essentially the same.

Wanning Wages

An insight on Central Asians’ struggle to cope with minimal wages got featured in Eurasianet this week. Given that fact (minimal wages) it wasn’t pretty surprising to have snapshots of emmigration of profesionals and corruption among public officials included there. After all the same factors and scenarios have been playing out here in the Philippines ever since I can remember.

The Urban Rush

An IRIN News article this week focuses on something I’ve blogged about at least twice: Urbanization. Apart from the same points raised in the other reads I wrote about here before, (i.e. challenges and existing problems because of growing urban population globally, lack of urban planning, urban crime and violence, and poverty,) the read includes South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin American glimpses of the issue.

The Markets’ Value

Finally an Economist article places financial centers around the world at present in parallel with the Middle Ages’ powerful city-states. Apparently New York and London has managed to remain ahead of the pack despite the more global nature of the market and the challenges posed by today’s advances in technology in the world of business.

Rise of the Lefties

Nope, nothing political here; just a research reported at Yahoo News indicating a rise in the number of left-handed persons today. If it is to be believed, it’s now at “about 11 percent of the population.”

I remember the same topic of a paper our written communications professor had as an example in tackling the exploratory paper we were supposed to submit then. If I remember it right, its title was “The Left-handed’s Struggle in a Right-handed World.”

Human Behavior Tidbits

Really stuff for the news entry previously, (only more dated that is.)

One of Four American Adults Read No Books Last Year

Not really surprising as far as I’m concerned. I think advances in technology has something to do with the dent on the amount of time people get to spend with books significantly. A lot has been said about the impact of such technological development on human behavior from shorter attention spans brought about by the ease of access to necessary information to more distractions brought about by the increased multitasking capabilities inherent in today’s computing technologies.

Even the definition of books themselves have become vague as a lot of publications have gone digital much like the trend seen for music records last year as I have written in this blog entry.

Anyway here’s the said Associated Press report:

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.

Web Usage Eats Up TV Time

Knew this one was coming when earlier this year related studies came out reporting on more people spending time on YouTube than in front of the TV. The sky’s still very much the limit for the growth of the internet as a related Reuters report on the findings of an IBM survey on consumer behavior goes:

In the latest sign of television’s decline as the primary media device, 19% of respondents said they spend six hours or more each day on personal Internet usage. That compares with 8% who said so about the TV. One to four hours of TV usage was reported by 66%, compared with 60% for the Web.

The number of TV viewers using digital video recorders continues to expand, with 24% of U.S. respondents saying they have a DVR and watch 50% or more of TV programming in replay mode, IBM found. Of those viewers, 33% said they are watching more TV since owning a DVR, in line with other recent studies.

New Diseases Due to Sex, Farming and Population Growth.

Yup, that’s pretty much a no brainer there. Consider the following Associated Press report quoting WHO authorities. WHO epidemics expert Dr. Mike Ryan in particular says:

“We’ve seen a shift in trend that reflects a transition of human civilization,” Ryan said. “The relationship to the animal kingdom, our travel, our social, sexual and other behaviors have changed the nature of our relationship with the microbial world and the result of that is the emergence of new pathogens and the spread of those pathogens around the world.”

And the facts laid down:

  • The increase of the rate at which food and people around the world carries risks which must be managed effectively. The increase in poultry to meet the demands of the growing world population for example might have resulted in the spread of bird flu according to WHO-Director General Dr. Margaret Chan.
  • Majority of the 39 new diseases recently including AIDS, Ebol, SARS and bird flu came from animals.

Architects and Urbanization

The global warming issue has been touching on the topic of urban living for a good reason: this year’s summer marks the first time that more people living in urban areas compared to those in rural areas. Effective policies and measures in place in cities therefore should translate to a considerable if not significant plus towards the effort.

Anyway a livemint article features the architect’s take on the subject:

As the demands on the world’s planners grow, academics from around the world gathered at a recent conference and expressed great unease about their ability to prepare the next generation of architects to build for this urban future.

“Every year the urban population increases by 80 million, equivalent to the population of Germany,” said Lars Reutersward, an architect and director of the global division at UN Habitat, the UN department that looks at urban development.

“Within that, there will be an increase in slum dwellers the size of Holland and Belgium put together—35 million—every year. This is a complete disaster, and it doesn’t have to happen,” he added. “People are dying in slums every day. It is horrible. We are lacking a sense of urgency; we are not coping with the speed of it.”

For a good reason. UN estimates place properly planned building work in expanding cities around the world at a dismal 5%. In Asia for instance, it is estimated that 70% of urban residents live in the said unplanned areas.

Emerging Asia’s Innovation Edge

A business week article of the same title earlier this month focuses on the rapid rate of development of Asia powerhouses China and India. Important points from a report Gartner released days before include:

  • China is fast becoming the global leader in research. In 2005 as the report mentions, applications for patents in China outnumbered those in the United States. For instance, the names of Chinese conglomerates, Lenovo, Huawei and Haier are fast becoming significant in the market as low-cost names while investing much on research.
  • India’s mark in IT Services still leads the way as it serves as the source of half the country’s exports and is forecasted to grow at 30% every year in the market. Leading the Indian IT market are Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consulting Services.
  • The development of the two powerhouses also translates to more people who are gaining freedom from poverty. This in turn translates to more people who will become consumers in the emerging markets. This and the fact, (if the report is to be believed,) that 85% of the world’s population comes from developing countries should fuel the further development for the two.

On Human Trafficking

If the U.S. Justice Department is right, Human Trafficking is the third largest criminal enterprise worldwide. According to United Nations Development Fund for Women Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion per year in terms of profit. Furthermore, she says:

Trafficking of persons includes prostitution, debt bondage, forced labor and slavery, and exploitation of children as workers, soldiers or sex slaves… Data from the International Labor Organization show that the migrant population currently stands at 120 million, of which around 12.3 million are enslaved in forced or bonded labor or sexual servitude at any one time…

More of it in the ADB article here.

[08/25 Update] – A related PDI article yesterday adds that the Philippines is classified as a Tier 2 country by the United States Justice Department. Tier 1 countries are those which complies with “the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” Tier 2 countries fail to comply but are making efforts to do so. Tier 3 countries on the other hand are not fully compliant with such standards.

In their article, “Dealing with Human Trafficking,” Luz Rimban and Yvonne Chua takes a look at the domestic extent of the global issue. Consider the following:

  • The Bahay Silungan Sa Daungan (BSSD) takes care of human trafficking victims at the Sasa Wharf in Davao City. If they’re to be believed, “as many as 20 passengers headed for Manila” per trip are “potential victims of human trafficking syndicates.”
  • The main factors contributing to the problem are the “grinding poverty in Mindanao” and the “promise of employment in Luzon.”
  • According to the  United Nations, the Philippines accounts for around 600,000 to 800,000 persons. Of this number, most of the victims are minors and children; a fact which is consistent with the ADB article.
  • There are pertinent laws and agencies to address the issue such as the passing of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2003, (RA 9208,) and the subsequent creation of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, (IACAT.) Since RA 9208’s enactment however, only 8 cases have been won by government lawyers. The all too common issue of victims fearing the reprisal of recruiters are pointed out as a common reason for witnesses backing out.
  • Peak season for transporting recruits include summer, semestral and Christmas breaks when the victims can merge with travelling students to escape detection of human trafficking authorities.

Obesity is ‘socially contagious’?

I’m not a big fan of the blame game but this Yahoo health tidbit roused an amount of interest anyway. The news bit focuses on obesity as something that’s “socially contagious.”

If your friends and family get fat, chances are you will too, researchers report in a startling new study that suggests obesity is “socially contagious” and can spread easily from person to person.

Maybe that’s one reason why a lot of people find contentment elusive: they base theirs against someone else’s. Then again that’s just me.

Capital Crossroads

An interesting study analyzes decision making based on the survey results regarding the youth’s outlook. Asked on several questions about school, career and marriage were young people from Albania, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Iraq, Malaysia, Romania, and Tajikistan, and as such, is significant in policy making in the future. The questions included were:

Thinking of the years of schooling that you received/will receive, who would you say has had most influence on you? Thinking of the person you married/will marry, who would you say has had most influence on you? Thinking of whether you work/will work and the type of occupation you have/had, who would you say has had the most influence on you?

For each question they were asked to choose between “myself,” parents and relatives, friends, and the government as the source of most influence. Using data on the 4,447 youth aged 15-24 in the surveys, I examine the extent to which influence over human capital decisions varies by country, and by sex, rural/urban location, household wealth, education level, and religion.

The picture here btw comes from the same article. Read more of the study here.

The Eight Commandments

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) pertain to 8 items summarizing the pledges of world leaders at the New York headquarters of the UN in September 2000. After the halfway milestone towards the 2015 deadline was officially reached last July 7, The Economist assesses each of the points made then. Here’s the link to the said article.

The said targets have been raised as a response to previous calls by the UN concerning some issues. From the article:

In 1977 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the world urged itself to provide safe water and sanitation for all by the end of the 1980s. In 1990 the UN renewed the call, extending the deadline to the end of the century. In 1978 in what is now Almaty, Kazakhstan, governments promised “health for all” by 2000. In 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand, they called for universal primary schooling by 2000, a goal pushed back to 2015 ten years later.

At the rate of progress reported though, the 2015 deadline for all points in the promise won’t be met. While economic successes in India and China assures the first MDG item will be reached, the progress of developing African nations point to a failure on the other points. In fact such Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, will not meet any of the goals.