Text messaging bridges the Digital Divide
August 26th, 2008

Jim Witkin wrote on Triplepundit a very interesting story about social ecology as one of the five pillars of sustainability. Jim refers to work of Walter Stahel — one of the founders of the sustainability movement.

[by way of Christian Kreutz Bookmarks on Delicio.us]

Many of the initiatives addressing the issues of social ecology rely on bringing modern technologies — like cell phones, computers, and Internet access — to populations in need. These initiatives are helping to “bridge the digital divide” and are often referred to as ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development). ICTs are used either directly by the disadvantaged population in some manner, or can be used to assist aid organizations and NGOs to improve socio-economic conditions. We can’t remember what our lives were like before the use computers and mobile phones; we often take these tools for granted, but for many people in developing regions these communication tools can have a profound impact on improving their lives and communities.

The good news: recognizing the widespread use of mobile phones even in the most remote areas, several non-profits are helping to grow this “Social Mobile” space, providing simple tools and basic training to grassroots NGOs. One of the more prominent non-profits in this space is kiwanja.net, founded by Ken Banks who offers an explanation for his focus on mobile phones, “Clearly, mobile phones are relatively cheap (when compared to personal or laptop computers, anyway). They are small and portable, have good battery life, provide instant voice communications, have SMS functionality at the very least… What’s more, hundreds of millions of some of the poorest members of society either own one or have access to one. No other two-way communications technology comes close.”

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