Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Great Conversation

There are many important uses of Simputers, but the greatest impact will come from bringing four billion more people into the global conversation on their future.

After all, who knows better what the poor of this world need than the poor themselves? I guarantee that the poor aren't the ones asking for aid to build a bigger military, or for big foreign aid projects that do not provide education and jobs for local inhabitants. I have heard (though I don't have a link for this) that the poor, when you ask them, say that they want basic survival needs met first, meaning no war or oppression, and enough food. Then they want education and opportunity for their children. Health and everything else comes after that.

I must say that I'm glad somebody asked some poor people their opinion, but I would feel better if I could hear it from the poor themselves.

Just to get a hint of what I mean about people being able to talk to each other and to the rest of us, have a look at Vis a vis: Native Tongues from Native American Public Telecommunications, with Ningali Lawford, Australian Aborigine playwright and actress and James Luna, Native American performance artist. It is being shown on PBS television stations at various times throughout November, is being shown at several film festivals, and will be available as a recording soon, we are promised.

Here we have people from two traditional cultures who have been taking their messages to the wider world, and now to each other. Before this documentary was made, these two had not met and had not seen each others' work.

Then we have the villages that have not been able to form agricultural cooperatives because they have no way to communicate with each other, and the people in villages without telephones whose children have gone away to get jobs in the city or even in other countries, or the would-be village entrepreneurs who have no place to put up a Web site.

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