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You may wonder, sometimes, if ICT in general and mobile technology in particular is also about revenue generation and filling time with empty connections. In some cases you may be right, however, after doing a wee bit of research I am beginning to see a much more hopeful picture emerging.

I was in part inspired to do a little more digging by a comment in Linked In on a Tweet I made (thanks Terry) which read: "The potential of this technology to transform life and improve the socio-economic status of many in the developing world has tremendous implications for peace". She also asked if I knew of any organizations that privileged youth could be a part of to help raise money/volunteer to aid in such ventures.

The two specific examples I would like to look at briefly are tied to multimedia: one is a BBC Digital Planet podcast episode, and the other a TED Talk video. I'm then going to pop a few links to organisations that you may want to look up should you like to support some of these initiatives.

Hole in the wall computers introduced to Indian slums

Professor Sugata Mitra introduced hole in the wall computers to Indian slums as part of a ten-year project. A BBC article ("Using computers to teach children with no teachers") writes that the professor "first introduced children in a Delhi slum to computers in 1999. [Since then] He has watched the children teach themselves - and others - how to use the machines and gather information". From that time he has "repeated the experiment across India and noticed that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do". One example mentioned in the BBC article was a group of children in Rajasthan, who "learnt how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village".

Terry commented on this project as follows: "Fascinating lecture. I was particularly struck by Mitra's comment that the project is "an example of what children can do if you LIFT adult intervention."

ICT in Cape Town (South Africa) and its environs

In some ways I'm not sure that the description of the podcast from the Digital Planet site does the programme justice. The number of projects that are briefly described is awe-inspiring and cover accessibility, education, literacy, communication, connectivity, business, employment, communities...and an improved sense of life - both as an individuals and as settlements. I had to listen to the podcast twice to really get a sense of the scope of what is happening, especially the overwhelming belief in openness, open-source and sharing.

Follow the link to listen the original podcast by clicking HERE.

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The blurb from the podcast site reads as follows:

"As the World Cup gets underway in South Africa, Gareth Mitchell travels to Cape Town to explore how digital technology is transforming people's lives.

He discovers why 21 million people, almost half of the population, use a social-networking application called MXit on their mobile phones. He also interviews Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, about the
evolution of open source software in South Africa.

Gareth visits a township - overlooked by IT innovators – where two brothers have set up a range of internet cafes. And he ventures to one of the dangerous ganglands where an organisation called RLabs is
encouraging former drug users and gang members to embrace tools such as
twitter and Facebook as a means of changing their lives."

These are links from organisations and initiatives mentioned in the podcast:

Links to organisations you can support

  • Ank (a Hindi word which means “Digit” in English) - a non profit making organization (NGO) based in Delhi, India. There are opportunities to fundraise and volunteer.
  • Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) - an organisation that provides funding and scholarships to empower youth to change the world with ICT and entrepreneurship.
  • Youth Social Enterprise Initiative - providing start-up financing and mentoring for entrepreneurial youth. Opportunities to become a mentor, and to become involved.
  • Education is Power - an organisation that believes that they can "change the world through education, empowerment, and inspiration" and by "providing post-secondary education for East Africans in East Africa". Opportunity to donate.

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