2005-02-02


Link The “Hole-in-the-wall” home
Link
PBS Reportage

Here’s the idea behind this computer device via PBS:

Mitra has some provocative ideas on the connection between learning and poverty. “Poverty has two different definitions,” he tells me. “Poverty of information is one kind of poverty; poverty of materials is another kind of poverty. The same method may not apply to solve the two problems.”

Mitra observes that the developed world has spent billions of dollars over decades trying to solve the problem of “material poverty” with little success. He speculates that if the problem of “information poverty” is addressed instead — by providing poor people with access to information they need and can use — then the poor “might just figure out how to solve the problem of material poverty by themselves.”


Here’s how the idea got turned into a computer kiosk:

Like many great ideas, Mitra’s was essentially simple. He cut a hole in the boundary wall separating NIIT from the adjacent slum, put a high-speed computer connected to the Internet in the hole, and turned it on.

I’m intrigued by the physical metaphor of a window, in reality a rear window into a tech company, for people who have not had opportunities to be involved in India’s ongoing tech boom. I hope it works as planned but I have a feeling that setting someone loose on the internet without guidance is like dumping a lifeboat in the ocean without a compass. I think I’ll write about this more after I think on it for a little while.

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