A small durable metal box may completely change the ‘developing’ world in the same way Grameen transformed microcredit for the poor in Bangladesh and numerous other countries.
Rather like the one-way intercom found at UK Police stations where passengers can press a button for information, Question Box is a simple box hung outside the local shop in countries such as Uganda and India where illiterate (and curious) people ask questions… and unlike UK Police stations the other end is actually manned.
That person is connected to the internet and helps people find answers to everyday questions such as health, agriculture, business and education. So for those who cannot read text messages and have as much chance as being connected to the internet as Boris Johnson has of being invited to Kosovo, this empowers and includes them in this Great Society we hear so much of. Commendable work, Question Box people.
But let’s go back to the Police and their approach to the public and our society. Notwithstanding their lazy attempts with their useless Question Box equivalents, there seems to be no end of stories about them engaging with social media.
First there was the local force who thought it would be a woot to set up a Twitter page for the station cat, no doubt tweeting away while somebody was being mugged outside, and recently Greater Manchester Police had its own ‘Twitter Day’ when it tweeted every incident that happened on their patch over a 24-hour period.
As a PR exercise it was an utter triumph. Published everywhere and generally well-received, I beg to differ. To me it seemed a pathetic attempt to gain the attention of a Government that was shortly to slash Police staff. Look at us, we work REALLY hard, we WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, please don’t sack us.
And there seems to be no end of the madness. This morning I read of the annual crop of 3,500 student Police detectives who are being taught to use Facebook and Twitter to catch villains… or as a spokesman said: ‘It’s a way of tracking down criminals, finding the sort of people they’ve contacted and the sort of groups they’re a member of.’
No shit, Sherlock, but this could go horribly wrong. Known associates is one thing, but being arrested because you have a Facebook friend who took the wrong turn or were monitored ‘playing the wrong type of game’, it looks as if the Crown Prosecution Service will have their hands full.
Still it makes a change from our emails being monitored and here’s a simple test. Send two emails to yourself; sixty seconds apart. Put the word ‘bomb’ in the first email and I can guarantee that email will arrive AFTER the second email.
I had probably stop there before my front door gets kicked in or my social networks are hacked by these progressive Police Types who are bored by me and send me down. Still at least I’ll have access to a Question Box, sorry, I mean lawyer.
See you next week (inshallah)