Role of digital technologies in Estonian identity

Ragnar Siil

The digital technologies are really in the heart of Estonian identity at the moment. And not only it has a changed the way we live but it also changed the way we are perceived outside. And it is the way we do business. It is the way how Estonian are building up their everyday lives, organizing their lives and probably without which they cannot think their the life is possible anymore.

It all goes back to mid 90’ when there was a government decision launched by a set of visionaries who wanted to connect two things. They wanted to connect the infrastructure that is necessary for the development of the services but also the education part. So the idea was that every school in Estonia needs to be connected to the internet. That was in mid 90‘ something unheard of, not only in Estonia but everywhere in all the world or most part of the world. It cost a lot of money. It was called the Estonian Tiger's Leap. There was a Tiger's Leap Foundation. There is a Tiger's Leap foundation. And this was done relatively quickly which meant that every school had an internet. Every student in every Estonian school had an access to these programs and school programs for programming or using internet, etc. So that raised the awareness about the possibilities. But it was just a first step.

Then president Lennart Meri has called it very nicely. He said that access to the internet is a basic human right. And this has been a kind of the cornerstone. If you go around Tallinn, Tallinn has one of the biggest number of free wireless areas. We have huge internet penetration rates. But you know it goes back to the everyday situations. Estonians are very comfortable people. And maybe it is because of weather. If it is half of the year – 20°C and you do not want to go out. You want everything to be very simple. More than that, this was more jokingly.

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