|By Roger Strukhoff||
|September 7, 2013 05:40 PM EDT||
The top half dozen Arabic Middle Eastern countries in our current rankings at the Tau Institute are Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. The first three stand clearly ahead of the others, and also rank in the top half of the 102 countries we've ranked worldwide. Jordan actually outpaces the United States.
How can this latter statement be true? Jordan is a small, oil-poor, relatively undeveloped nation, with a per-person income level less than one-tenth that of the US. Its entire economy is about the size of that of Vermont, with overall prosperity on a par with Sri Lanka.
But relatively speaking, the Kingdom is doing well in comparison with its neighbors, and on a "pound-for-pound" basis against the wealthier nations of the world.
How We Do It
We integrate several technology and social factors into our algorithms -- on the one hand including average bandwidth, access to broadband, number of dataservers, on the other hand including income disparity, perception of corruption, human development, and the local cost of living. This results in rankings that show how well the nations of the world are doing compared to what they already have, with the dynamic that the top performers will continue to outpace the laggards.
Our rankings also reflect a lot of time spent, by me and by our associates and advisors, living in the various corners of the world. They reflect how one can sense optimism in the streets of Jordan, despite tremendous challenges that are only being exacerbated by a flood of refugees from Syria, while sensing a pernicious, lingering pessimism in a United States that seems maddeningly glued to a downward trajectory.
There are similar real-world reflections in other parts of the world as well. Travel to Estonia (ranked #2 in our research) and you'll find an exuberance lacking in, say, Italy (ranked #76), despite an income level in the latter country that's still more than twice that of Estonia. Dynamic Poland (#14) and problematic Russia (#80) provide another contrast. There are literally thousands of such comparisons that can be drawn from our research.
We will another major update at Cloud Expo in Silicon Valley the week of November 4. We are also working on developing regional and city rankings, a massive undertaking for us that won't be complete until sometime next year.
Committed to Non-Violence
Our Institute is small, headquartered on a former liberal-arts college campus in Northern Illinois, and in Metro Manila, Philippines. We are also committed unequivocally to peaceful means of solving all problems. This can be a difficult point of view to adhere to, but having seen enough violence on small scales and larger scales, I for one take the view that no further human progress is possible through violent means of any type.
I have recently been tweeting a lot and writing a bit about my loathing of NSA spying (which I consider a violent act in that it is purely intimidating), and my enormous reservations about the current march to war against Syria by the Obama Administration.
As a small example, I see the potential disruption this bellicosity will cause in Jordan, and of course it will do nothing but harm to Syria, which already ranks low in our research. We would also love to be able to dig more deeply into the technology infrastructures and potential of all of our Middle Eastern leaders, as well as the countries that lag. But violence (and its potential) puts the kibosh on that. Surely, there are ways to exert irresistible, non-violent pressure on the bad actors of the world without becoming a bad actor oneself.
I am happy to share more details of our research and debate our approach and point of view with anyone at anytime. Perhaps I'll see you in Santa Clara, or elsewhere -- just send me a tweet to engage.