Thursday, October 19, 2006

The hole in the wall

No, this is not about a dutch guy who put a finger in a wall to save his town from flooding. Or about Israel and Palestine. It's about India and India. I mean uptown hyperlinked pseudo-impressive India and the real India.

The Hole-in-the-wall experiment was started by Sugata Mitra, head of research at NIIT. The videos on that site (and also here) are mind-blowing; Sugata decided to put a computer (connected to the Internet) on a wall of his office building in Delhi which adjoins a slum. Only the screen was visible through a layer of some thick glass; and there was a touchpad and some coloured buttons next to it. No keyboard, no instructions.

Kids from the slum were instantly attracted; That was Sugata's aim really, to see if anyone would use it. Note that these kids have little knowledge of computers, and a second hand computer would cost as much as their parents make a year.

The experiment went beyond the obvious. Not only did the kids figure out the mouse tricks instantly, they soon realised how they could go on to the internet, and soon were found googling for search terms like "Aishwarya Rai but not with so many clothes". Just kidding.

(I don't like the idea of kids getting unbridled internet access so I hope they have a porn filter out there)

Seriously, the kids figured it all out! Soon they were visiting disney.com and playing games online and all that. Amazing, I say. We need one of these boxes in Bangalore, preferably with only links to sites like:
1) How to drive.
2) How to drive without having to honk incessantly.
3) Running over pedestrians is a bad thing.
4) Stopping at red lights: The glamour of people who do.

And people should have to do this before they get a licence, renewable every year.

But I digress. We need the boxes for the under-privileged in Bangalore. And in all sorts of villages - perhaps as a movable van, with a phone link on a cellphone for providing internet access.

I think the video opens many eyes. And tells you the story of a real India. Lots of talent, little opportunity. Open the opportunity, and you'll suddenly see a much bigger market for both employment and for selling to. The big guys do not get it - other than Reliance. The future is in todays castaways.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Just Mohit said...

I was around at NIIT when the first hole in the wall experiment happened, and it wasn't just a revelation for us; it was a shock! And it was beautiful. And NIIT has done it in quite a few places in India after that.
(Oh, and the kids could only access a selection of "approved" sites; so no risk of unbridled access)

3:42 PM, October 19, 2006  
Blogger Rupali_Srivastava said...

Thanks for sharing this information
It gives you so mch hope!

11:51 PM, October 19, 2006  
Blogger Minkey Chief said...

The video made me cry...

1:49 PM, October 20, 2006  
Blogger Gayathri said...

Shenoy,

Yo!

Gaga

9:52 AM, October 21, 2006  

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