Leapfrogging is one of the fundamental ideas on which we tend to focus. But what is it? Jamais' post Leapfrog 101 is the best short-course explanation of the idea and its implications I've ever seen.
"Leapfrogging" is the notion that areas which have poorly-developed technology or economic bases can move themselves forward rapidly through the adoption of modern systems without going through intermediary steps. ... The best-known example of leapfrogging is the adoption of mobile phones in the developing world. It's easier and faster to put in cellular towers in rural and remote areas than to put in land lines, and as a result, cellular use is exploding. As we've noted, mobile phone use already exceeds land line use in India, and by 2007, 150 million out of the 200 million phone lines there will be cellular. There are similar examples from all over the world.
Would the Worldchanging team consider top-down political efforts like Ugo Chavez's spectacular and brilliant proposition of offering cheap gasoline directly to poor U.S. communities - "leapfrogging"?
I mean, conceptually his proposition breaks the entire American economic+military backbone and the carboncapitalism which it has been supporting at all costs for the past 100 years.
Maybe Worldchanging could report (even) more on this kind of top-down big government actions and concepts. Chavez is truly world changing and his government is the most effective NGO on the planet! It has bettered the lives of millions of poor, in quite a dramatic manner.
I think the era of bottom-up, "civil society" organizations and networks as one of the most interesting sources and strategies of true change has consolidated itself (the 1990s), and that big political, antagonistic and ideological struggles embodied by "big men" will dominate the coming decades once more.
Francis Fukuyama has clearly lost his entrance into the pantheon of great historians, since his thesis about "the end of history" has been proven entirely wrong. Nowadays, history is being born once again. The 1990s are over. Let the struggle begin.
(PS: of course WC has reported on Lula's efforts regularly, which is great.)