Saturday, October 31, 2009

Everyday Items

Some of the everyday items from a bar keeper in Ghana, Africa. I enjoy the placement of the toothbrush next to the New Testament in the nesting spot of where this gentleman's daily ritual objects go. They lay on a shelf right next to his door, to the back of his bar. The bar itself has a about a 12' x 12' floor plan, and his serving space is only about 4' x 4' of that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tool vs Toy

I haven't posted in a while for various reasons. First, I was in Africa with extremely limited connection for two months. While posting was a job task by some standards, the difficulty of dealing with slow upload times and intermittent connections, hindered that to a few posts. Second, I moved into an apartment with no internet connection.

Now, there is internet at work. When I am at work, I have been quite good about using my time for work, including what I do on the internet. And I rarely stay later to browse the internet and stumble upon new things. As I sat here today, I realized, I wasn't treating the internet like a toy or with the casualness of play anymore. Not having access to it all the time, made it into a tool.

When resources are scarce, it is difficult to experiment and come up with innovative uses of them. On the other hand, scarcity does promote extorting as much as one came from resources available. This thought brought me back to my time in Africa, and some conversations I had with people about the digital divide. In its most extreme and simplified form, there are two poles that these resources will swing too. There will be zero innovation, as the cost of it is too high. The alternative is extreme innovation, as the cost of not doing so is high.

So, why do these observations matter? And what am I going to do about it? How am I going to turn insight into action?

Observing and participating in the digital divide in Africa made me realize the need for bricks and mortar institutions to exist. Information may exist on the web, but unless it is accessible, it doesn't really exist. So, I am now working on a plan to build appropriate technology workshops in developing nations.