Quote from jacklang on August 24, 2011, 13:52
We've been talking a bit to http://www.humanitariancentre.org/
who have an ICT4D program, but would welcome approaches from other organisations. However I'm wary of falling into some of the problems that the OLPC program found, especially that of believing we know what is good for other people. For example it won't help people to have a mainly text based system if they can't read or write, where a cheap smartphone might be a better solution. There may also be other cultural issues.
The initial use I envisaged was more in urban periphery slums and shanty towns, where power and screens are more likely available, rather than rural isolated villages.
Yeah, the problem you mention can be a big problem when things are pushed onto people in the manner that has happened far too many times before.
What we are going to provide will be accessible via PC, smartphone and other methods. We would like to see an alternative device produced that can be used for a wide range of purposes which also just so happens to be able to utilise our servers and services. If it is cheap enough and low maintenance then it would be a good candidate for distribution to areas which may not otherwise be able to have access to such things.
On other note:
We are also planning to publish some videos and other learning materials for electronics, computing, etc, etc... Having a modular system which allows people to slot a into b and get their own computer running might encourage them to look more into this technology. This is more-so if they a successful in their first endeavors which can't always be said for desktop boxes.
Our purpose as a whole is not specifically engineered towards "third-world" countries and such-like but because of many reasons, we need to take into consideration the local situation/issues before expending a great deal of time and effort in developing something. It's simple market research at its fundamental level and important to carry out whether it's a product/service you plan to bring to London, New York, Tagum City, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia or anywhere else.
My own personal thoughts on this is:
There are many people who, given a task to research a potential market, would organise surveys, do other clever market research methods like blind testing and consumer focus groups etc etc etc... But the same company/individual who is tasked to do the same thing: just the area of interest is at a different location in the world... They don't do the market research, instead they decide what's in "these people's best interest".
They go to more lengths to find out what the people in their own neighborhood think and want than what they do for cultures they've never had first hand knowledge of.
But this is going way off-topic now...
What we want to do is provide services and other things that the widest range of people can make use of and contribute to if they wish. But I do agree completely with your post.