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ERSU ABLAK > Use technology stupid!

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Technology is an industry that can affect all the others. There are therefore many topics to write when writing about technology in Turkey.

On Tuesday, another historical monument was burned down because of a short circuit - the home of Galatasaray University, a place of both historical and educational value. It burned down right in the middle of the educational year. There were no repairs ongoing, nothing out of the ordinary, and yet a short circuit was able to burn down a building that had been standing since 1871.

If the official statement is true - that the building wasn’t sabotaged to make room for a hotel, or to punish the students who protested YÖK, the prime minister, and their own rector - then it is still a shame for humanity. Technology-wise, the solution to short circuits has been known for almost a century. Modern methods of historical preservation techniques and advances in electricity management are very easy to implement and very cheap. If there were still copper wires and no up-to-date technologies to prevent a fire in one of Istanbul’s most elegant and important buildings then someone has to pay for it. I believe that that whoever is responsible for not using these trivial technologies should resign, as well as the head of Istanbul’s fire department and the head inspector of building safety. If Turkey is to embrace the future and protect the past, it should do so by learning how to use technology effectively, in areas other than talking on the phone.

On Wednesday this week, the OECD published its income inequality report. Income inequalities are one of the most visible manifestations of differences in living standards within each country. High income inequalities typically imply a waste of human resources, in the form of a large share of the population out of work or trapped in low-paid and low-skilled jobs. According to the report, among OECD countries, inequality is lowest in Slovenia, Denmark and Norway, while highest in Chile, Mexico and Turkey.

It might seem that the abovementioned story and the income inequality reports finding are unrelated, but they are almost one and the same to me. When there is too much income inequality in a society, people tend to go for easy ways to become rich. What is easier than building hotels and malls and earning income that you don’t deserve? In Turkish there is even a specific word for it, “rant.” Many believe that the university building was deliberately burned down, like so many other historical buildings in Turkey that were then converted to commercial use.

Countries that have such high income inequality don’t like technology, because technology can bring order, safety, openness and transparency, all of which counter the earning of undeserved income. I strongly believe that if Turkey can make peace with its usage of technology for the public good, our buildings won’t burn down this often, and we will not experience such high levels of income disparity.

January/24/2013

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