Estonia: Life in a Networked Society

2013 ,    »  -   25 Comments
Ratings: 5.74/10 from 31 users.

The power of connectivity can make a difference in public safety, emergency management, health care, business and social services.

How can people be provided with equitable access to public services and opportunities irrespective of age or location?

Technologies enable people to interact, innovate and share information in totally new ways. People are empowered, business is liberated and the society is more transparent.

But how to take advantage of all this? And what does it take to become a networked society? We look at what a country should focus on when building a networked society?

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Liisa Pavelson

    And that's how we live. Mainly people are complaining when there is no free wifi or when for example the given wifi connection in the cross country bus is not that strong, 'cause internet - it's everywhere and sometimes I'm thinking how all would collapse if we suddenly lost internet connection.

  2. Pythus

    estonia? hah! is this an hour long estonian pr commercial or what?

  3. Pythus

    bahahaha this must be estonias claim to fame. americans aren't as "digitized" as you for practical reasons. and you highly exaggerate the benefits of such systems. sounds like an orwellian nightmare to me

  4. Lehto Nuut

    Regardless of it being someone's claim to fame or not the facts are still out there. Them mainly being more technological achievement in a less developed economic context. So yes, it is an unusual thing but documentaries are made to highlight those kinds of divergences.

    Secondly, your Orwellian nightmare analogy is kind of correct actually. But it is important to keep in mind that in a small country like Estonia it is highly unlikely that something of this kind is ever to happen. The most likely scenario I can imagine is some kind of outside influence which, however, is not very likely. The economic + political elite in Estonia are so small and unambitious that they are only interested in securing their own wealth with the small means that are available to them. In the US, I can imagine, with all it's available power and resources and a huge inclination towards corruption (2party/mafia system + foxnews media model) the Orwellian scenario is more likely indeed.

  5. David Ewer

    Have watched half and it is very interesting. It's nice to find out about Estonia and the people must be congratulated for the changes they've made, not least in using much less paper and so less trees. However, as yet I've heard no critical voices and there are plenty of possible issues regarding access, security, dodgy government actions and how kids respond to digital education.
    I'll watch the rest later.

  6. TheDanishViking

    I dont give a rats a.. about the "Estonian Network". However, we should all be impressed about the level of democracy and freedom in present day Estonia - just a few decaces after the Soviet Union collapsed - meanwhile their big neighbour Russia is still stuck in nationalism and organized crime.

  7. Ionica Doimetri

    can't wait to implement it in the hand or forehead. heheheh

  8. fonbindelhofas

    i must say- privacy. you need only a pesky CIA terrorist to come and ask for anything, and they will give it. a record of all your actions. remember how Sweden was proud about human rights? until Julian Assange... same is here, voluntary record of all your opinions strait to hands of gestapo, if they are interested in you ofc, but hey, model must be done & tested anyways;)
    p.s. im from a Baltic state myself, i know the weakness of the governments in there.

  9. fonbindelhofas

    you sound like your nationalism was hurt in the but... get over yourself

  10. John

    Estonia has nationalistic tendencies and the we in the west have been stocking anti-Russian nationalism inside Russia among the non-Russian ethnic groups including 2 separatist/terrorist wars and neighbouring countries like Ukraine and helped organise a coup of the post-Soviet economy that nearly destroyed the country which became a colony ruled by a western Oligarch criminal class and organised crime both of which are neither Russian and citizens of one or two other countries Israel and Britain like crime boss/terrorist financier Boris Berezovsky who is friendly with the elites here in Britain.

  11. TheDanishViking

    Just to make sure I understand you correct:
    1) The Russian ethnic conflicts are all the fault of the West?
    2) The conflict between Russia and Ukraine are all the fault of the West?
    3) The fact that the Russian economy is controlled by gangsters is also the fault of the West?
    Let me turn it around. I believe the historical problem in Russia is that a ruling class (the Zar, the communists, the nationalists (Putin), the oil barons, etc) have been suppressing the population and feeding them propaganda and blaming outside forces for everything that is going wrong. This is the oldest trick in the book and the russian masses still believe it. The Russians need to decide whether they want to continue living in a state of denial where they blame everybody else for their problems - or they can get off their high horse and get on the long difficult track to democracy and freedom. Maybe it is time for another revolution?

  12. John

    1) They only have 1 ethnic conflict and they are trying to stock animosity/conflict among the Carcassian community that is a fact they have been supported by the west and there Islamic allies and are on the payroll of government funded or connected organisations like NED and The Jamestown Foundation.
    It is not only in Russia but the former Yugoslavia, China and other countries.

    2) There is no real animosity among Ukraine and Russia until western groups supported the colour revolution coup and radical nationalist Ukrainian groups dating back to WW2.

    3) Yes the economic shock therapists were trained under Gorbachev in British institutions in London, Vienna and Budapest in the late 80’s with Harvard economists like Jeffery Sachs who implemented economic shock therapy putting the country’s wealth into a handful of western aligned Oligarchs who received their initial capital from overseas banks in rigged auctions of state assets headed by Khoderkovsky who later turned out to be a frontman for Jacob Rothschild in London operations in Russia along with George Soros.

    Before Putin came to power and targeted some of these oligarchs before they fled to Britain like Berezovsky and Israel like the YUKOS shareholders Russia was in a state of collapse.

    “The Russians need to decide whether they want to continue living in a state of denial where they blame everybody else for their problems - or they can get off their high horse and get on the long difficult track to democracy and freedom. Maybe it is time for another revolution”

    Do you mean like Kosovo that is run by the KLA drug, sex and terrorist trafficking mafia that we installed in Kosovo by supporting a terrorist campaign and ethnic cleansing of the Serb and non-Albanian ethnic populations?

    Perhaps they will be more than 17 ethnic Russians out of the 556 important functionaries of the Bolshevik State like the last one most of which came from New York and financed by the world’s most powerful international banks.

    They don’t need a phoney Soros/NED colour revolution.

  13. TheDanishViking

    1) Are you aware of the civilian casualties in Chechnya!!?
    2) There is a lot of hatred among people in Ukraine towards Moscow - Ukraine is trying to get closer to the EU, - this has hurt the feelings of Russia that is now trying to ruin Ukriane.
    3) Putin is not the friend of the Russian people. Putin is (part of) the problem.
    All this aside - how do you propose to solve all these problems? More cheap Vodka? More killing of journalists? More propaganda? More pictures of Putin beating his chest?
    The ONLY way to improve things is more freedom and more democracy.
    But sure the West is certainly not perfect.

  14. KsDevil

    It must be nice to have a job where you don't do any physical work and can play businessman on the internet.
    A lot of big dreams and not a lot of reality. But, then, the people in this documentary are not the working class of Estonia.

  15. fonbindelhofas

    yap, most young ppl are gone... why? cos they try to escape poverty.
    Those suits are so away from reality. If you are forced to sleep in the street you dont give a f*ck about internet connection.

  16. Tim Rooney

    why censor people's comments?? why destroy culture?

  17. fettemama

    Lol, stop being poor and/or stupid.

  18. fettemama

    Those 'suits' as you say are successful heroes. They took their life into their own hands and instead of whining about how they deserve state welfare they went out and became successful entrepreneurs. I despise poor and lazy people.

  19. erkki

    From estonia, there is about 1500 people in the school. 90% of them have smartphone from 1. grade. Internet for people with suits, are u kidding me? we have 30mb/internet in phone for 5€ or something. i m living in tallinn, in private house using 150mb internet from starman .ee with 70 channel tv its 35€ per month with free routers and digibox. bank cards soon will be history in our country just like cd-s. people wear more smartphones than bank cards. thats trough from regular people from estonia.

  20. XenoLair

    What the f*ck are you talking about? People cant just stop being poor. You can't just get up, get a job and live happy. That's impossible due to the idiotic economic system put in place. Those suits are just people not doing anything worthy to help the country where it needs help the most. They aren't heroes, they are just gold seekers helping only themselves.

    Either you're trolling or really don't have a clue on what's going on..

  21. AI

    Uh.. where to begin? - this is dumb.

    Yes, Estonia might use the advantages of IT in some areas where most do not.
    But it is hardly anything groundbreaking. Just an alternative.

    It is a huge leap to call it a "networked society". Networked society would imply some sort of connecting structure that would unify some important aspects of said society. As well as intelligent management of said structure for it to work. Estonia has neither.

    The fact that every kid owns a smartphone now doesn't mean we are networked, connected or intelligent society. This simply means we are consumers.

    The fact that we have rather large wifi covered areas, and decently fast connection in most places also does not mean we are somehow more connected than any other first world country.
    Also this is somewhat easier to achieve for Estonia because of small land area. So even if it is somewhat noteworthy achievement in local scale, it is hardly groundbreaking or society changing factor.

    Sure, we also have digiID, and e-riik, or "e-government" which is associated with it. And it is somewhat alternative approach to bureaucracy and saves citizens the trouble of standing in lines for some government interaction while also imposing security risks. But other than that it hardly makes the society run more efficient or maybe even more importantly - unified.
    At the end of the day, it is still the same, slow-ticking bureaucracy mess of a machine.

    Utilizing IT where possible, is really just a common sense in 21st century.

    Plus, we already have a global independent networked society. It is called "Teh Internetz". And the same people who are promoting... whatever it is that this documentary is talking about.. are trying to limit this society in disguise of copyright protection and security and whatnot.

    That being said - I didn't really bother watching this documentary, simply skimped trough it. So excuse me if I missed any important, valid point.

  22. Tomas Samot

    This applies to all baltic countries. Anyways this SUCKS. this is lost of freedome.

  23. bringmeredwine

    Hello from Canada.
    I heard on the news a while ago, that as an experiment, a group of Chinese hackers was able to shut down all of Estonia's internet service.
    Is this true, and how did it affect you?

  24. SvenTheBold

    "Utilizing IT where possible, is really just a common sense in 21st century."

    I hope and pray that for these past two years, you've kept thinking like you did in this post. I don't know how much you know about the U.S. -- I mean *really* know about it, not just what you've heard online and in movies -- but the fact is, everything you mention *remains* groundbreaking, relative to a society like ours; a society so low-tech, businesses need to downgrade their services in order to interact with the most powerful government on the planet.

    I grew up in a rural area with neighbors who didn't have internet access. I'm talking newborns growing up in the 21st century in a house without internet; and not because it wasn't available, but because the heads of those households were choosing not to pay for it. These were people who not only didn't have cable TV, they almost didn't buy the converter box needed to maintain TV reception when analog went digital. In a town with exactly one extremely local newspaper, they almost made the choice to live devoid of news of the outside world; because their lives were, and as far as I know still are, not "networked" in any meaningful way. On the other side of the block, I was raised with Internet speeds as fast as Google Fiber, in a school district having to manage what amounted to a dual digital-paper homework system for the kids who did vs. did not have internet access.

    For local government to use online systems in a place where not everyone feels the need to have access to the Internet... that would be borderline treasonous. So between genuine access issues and genuine opinion that such connection is unnecessary, it's a reality that many places in the U.S. simply could not implement such a program even if they wanted to. I have a suspicion that when the makers of this documentary singled out such advancements, their target audience was not the wealthy European consumers featured, but the rural Americans who consider government an imposition and who might come to consider technology a way to lighten that load.

  25. SvenTheBold

    I despise rich arrogant b*stards who steal employment from those who need it. There's nothing heroic about schmoozing the boss, claiming easy cash from the jobs that leave your fingers lily-white, and leaving everyone else to do the hard work, the work that leaves you dirty and pays you s*it. The real entrepreneur invents, manufactures; produces: creates. The real entrepreneur reaps the fruits of his labor off the sweat of his brow. Your "success" stories create nothing but a personality, an ego, one that will die with them, leaving nothing but an unearned fortune behind for their own rich-b*stard spawn.

    You say we whine, but there was a time when we did more than that; we rose up. We created institutions of our own making, and what did we find but success? We certainly did better in Cuba than you capitalists did in Haiti. We did better in Norway and Sweden than you ever did in Britain. The Soviets may have been incompetent, but the Maoists threaten you today with terror and war tomorrow, and let me assure you, it's not because they became more capitalist than you did. You called us terrorists, communists, because we did not give in to your dogma that the poor are lazy. No, we saw ourselves better than you saw yourselves, and we acted on our conviction.

    I would say that the time is coming when the poor will awake once more. But I know that this isn't true. Red is a color for the capitalists now..., the new day dawns green.

    Let me let you in on a little secret; technology is slowly and inexorably reaching a point where everything we need for human comfort and independence will be able to be derived from the natural world. Building a house? Bamboo and hempcrete. Need tools? Bioplastics. Guns, solar panels, and other manufactured goods? 3-D printers. Circuitry and supercapcitors? Hemp-based graphene. Food? Permaculture and agroforestry.

    And the brilliant thing about all this is that nature cannot be patented. You can no more stop nature's design than you can stop the sun from setting. All we need is for one person or group to contribute a sufficiently-powerful 3-D printer into the creative commons, wait a few years for hemp-based graphene's potential to be realized, and what you will have is the final turn of the wheel of history, the last revolution ever needed in human society.

    And if you think this is all just truthy-sounding talk, remember that we're *already* seeing Africa skip industrialism and go directly to cellphones and solar. The poor of Africa see the value of this model, and they will be remembered as one of its foremost champions. The degenerate peoples of the West and East will eventually come to realize that if they're going to work 36 hours shifts in a sweatshop, it might as well be the sweatshop of their own making, in a land of their own toiling.

    That's the real irony of all this. You uplift these "success" stories whose suits are tailored by *others*, phones are built by *others*, whose cars and trains and homes are built by *others*: you uplift people whose entire lives, in fact, are dictated by the actions of slaves half a world away. That's not self-made. Hell, that's not even self-contained. That's other-dependent, dependent on the very poor, "lazy" people whom you despise. And like the Romans who were too arrogant to read to themselves, but had to have a slave read for them -- like the Romans whose stone skeletons lie strewn about the entire continent of Europe as monument to the vanity of power -- the collective Empire of your rich, suited b*stards will slowly and inexorably fall into the disrepair that they deserve.

    Because it's these "success" stories who are lazy. It's these "success" stories who couldn't sustain their lifestyles if left to their own devices. Your rich b*stards only have so long before we acquire the technological capacity to free ourselves once and for all from your baby-faced grip, and live our lives according to a law of peace unfettered by a Pax Romana.

    And when that day comes, I will dance on the grave of a culture that lost its soul and laughed about it. I will dance joyously, with the sons and daughters of the rich, whom we will have liberated with labor from the chains of their complacency.

    For it is only with compassion that we will ever be able to share this rock we call home. And I am willing not just to die but to *SWEAT* to make it happen.

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