This from the "Culture Matters" anthro blog (hey ethnos, how come we don't have something like this?):
Wired magazine has a recent story about Dawn Nafus, a Cambridge PhD in anthropology working for Intel: Intel Anthropologists Find Keys to Tech Adoption. The map of which countries are rapid adopters is great; there’s some interesting surprises. For example, Nafus found that Estonia and South Korea were early adopters of technology in relation to income:
…her team found that they both have agile governments, strong offline social networks, and major upheavals in living memory (the transition out of Communism and the Korean War). That raised the counterintuitive question: could turmoil actually be good for preparing people for disruptive technologies?
I won’t review the whole article, but there’s some great examples of anthropological research producing counter-intuitive results. For example, ‘One other surprise in the Intel data: foreign direct investment, or how much money foreign firms pour into a country’s economy, can actually constrain how fast technology is adopted.’ Worth checking out.