Today’s Editorial January 02: Cayman’s Web presence

In little more than 10 years, the World Wide Web has become a basic necessity for many societies. Every day, billions of dollars worth of transactions and a torrent of information swirl around the barely-controlled wilderness of cyberspace. Millions of people meet, fall in love, and keep in touch with distant relatives as a matter or routine.

Many governments utilize the Web to inform their citizens about laws and programmes. So critical has the Web become, that cyber-terrorism and even cyber-war are considered serious threats and some nations spend many millions of dollars defending against such them.

To many people, it is obvious that the World Wide Web – in spite of its dangers – is a deep well of economic opportunity and social progress. In the Cayman Islands, however, the Web has not yet achieved critical mass, the point where most people embrace its potential. This is unfortunate because our society can benefit in countless ways from a more vigorous relationships with the Web. Yes, the Cayman Islands government and an increasing number of local businesses have a presence on the Web. But it’s not enough. We are far from fully exploiting the value of this resource.

Keep in mind, we are a society of islands, three small land masses isolated from other societies by a sea. That isolation was breached long ago, of course, by ships, planes and telephones. The Web, however, can and has rendered such geographical boundaries irrelevant. This should be an irresistible feature for Caymanian society.

We can do far more business with Asians, North Americans, South Americans, Africans, Australians, Europeans and other Caribbean nations. For too long we have relied too heavily on the tourism and financial industry. The time is long overdue for Cayman to significantly diversify its economy. And the Web is one way to do it. We can take the example of other societies who in recent years have produced thriving middle class professionals who work at home for clients in faraway lands, via the Web, in the fields of accounting, consulting, virtual assistants, etc.

Too many of us are thinking in 20th century pre-World Wide Web terms. This is the 21st century and the world is wired. Forget about the waters around us. Mumbai, Seattle and Moscow are only a click away.

-This realization, coupled with a renewed emphasis on education and creativity, can make us a real player on the global stage in something other than helping rich people avoid taxes and renting our sand to visitors.