29 March, 2007

Multiple 'transport' mechanisms used to interact with Internet in developing world


A lovely story from the BBC about cached WiFi intelligence: how, in rural India and parts of Rwanda, Cambodia and Paraguay, the local store has a community computer which gets updated with content whenever a bus (equipped with wi-fi) drives past. The bus connects both people and information requests to larger (connected) communities.

The founder of the United Villages initiative Amir Hassan said:
"0.003% percent of the web that rural India cares about. They want to know the cricket scores, they want to see the new Aishwarya Rai photos, and they want to hear a sample of the latest Bollywood tunes."
It also provides everyone in the rural community with email access too. Users can request specific pages that isn't normally cached. Clearly not designed for personalized services.

OK, so what's the relevance of this heart warming story to the first and second world?

In essence, that most of the internet is asynchronous, so much so that it is (largely) independent of time. So content consumers will use low (or zero) cost communications mechanisms for this type of information and expensive mobile when speed is important or when they lack of access and can justify the expense.

Mobile operators take note.

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