Infopoverty World Conference. This sounded very interesting but I wondered what this conference really was about. The title told me a little bit but to be honest I accepted the opportunity and began to prepare without fully understanding what I would encounter. The topic I was asked to present on was alternative connectivity methods in country’s with limited connectivity. If you want to see the presentation it was recorded and can be found here:
I am about 2 hours and 25-27 min into the video you should be
able to scroll through to that time and watch my speech. However, that is not
the purpose of this post.
So back to the question, what is Infopoverty? Well, in today’s day and age we are overloaded with information, from the moment we wake up you can have instant access to the latest news, sports and weather. Our phones are so smart now you can be in constant contact with work, friends and family, even if you don’t always want to be. But, can you imagine being in an area that has no connectivity at all? Totally or completely deprived of Information and Communication from the outside world except for when someone visits? This is what Infopoverty is about, the lack of availability of information.
At the conference we were focused on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s). One of the story’s I heard was from Dr. John Steffens of the Infopoverty Institute based out of Oklahoma City. He was talking about a school that the head master had called and asked him to obtain computers for his school. John worked with other organizations to deliver several computers (not sure about the total number) the head master called him to let him know the computers arrived. The village had a huge party and parade to welcome the computers to the School. Everyone was excited however they were not able to use the computers because they had no power.
My first thought was, “What?” you mean that someone did not even think to ask if they had power? Of course this is my ignorance showing through.
Dr. Steffens continued to explain the Education Minister from that country came to the school and was amazed they had computers even when they did not have the power to turn them on. Because of this the Education Minister and others helped negotiate the power connection down to half of the original cost. Last thing Dr. Steffens heard was they were still negotiating the power connection but it had come down significantly.
Little did I know that delivering the computers even though there
was not power would ultimately help the school and possibly the entire village
receive power before others. David Neely the CEO of Affecting Change
International often talks about how important it is to part with the local
community to be sure that whatever project you are doing is really what the
village needs. Sometimes what we think they need is not what they really need at all. In some cases we may even think the request is outlandish. But this shows that partnering with the Head master of the school and delivering what he asked assisted in way more than just having a couple of computers.