How long does it take a village to browse?

Have you ever put a computer into a hole in a wall in a remote village in India and watched what happened?

Me neither. But Sugata Mitra has.

He’s showing us a video of what happened. A 13-year-old school dropout was the first to discover the computer. He later told Sugata “this is the first television I’ve seen that I can do something on.” By the end of the first evening this 13-year-old had not only learned how to browse the Internet (without any help) but he had taught 70 others how to do it as well.

This one talk alone was worth coming to LIFT.

Organizer Laurent Haig says they are recording all the talks and will put the talks up online soon. I’ll definitely link to this talk when it’s up.

UPDATE: Stephanie Booth has a writeup/photo of this and many other sessions.

34 thoughts on “How long does it take a village to browse?

  1. :) – this and many other exciting initiatives have changed the face of India in many ways. With e-governance mandatory, to drive participatory governance from the grassroots, it is also taking the communication and telecom boom to the furthest corners of the country.

    Cheers.

  2. :) – this and many other exciting initiatives have changed the face of India in many ways. With e-governance mandatory, to drive participatory governance from the grassroots, it is also taking the communication and telecom boom to the furthest corners of the country.

    Cheers.

  3. Dips, I’ve never met a 13 year old dropout in a slum who could read English. I haven’t watched the video – so I’m in the dark on this.
    Now if its so easy – why does my mom still find it difficult to check email? :)

  4. Dips, I’ve never met a 13 year old dropout in a slum who could read English. I haven’t watched the video – so I’m in the dark on this.
    Now if its so easy – why does my mom still find it difficult to check email? :)

  5. Wow, that was simply amazing. Did you see just how many kids were piled up around it? And how they shared their collective knowledge with one another?

    Makes me feel homesick a bit, so I think a trip back to India is due!

  6. Wow, that was simply amazing. Did you see just how many kids were piled up around it? And how they shared their collective knowledge with one another?

    Makes me feel homesick a bit, so I think a trip back to India is due!

  7. @9: You’d be suprised how good their English is. They are taught it from a young age in school and by the age of 11ish they can speak and write in English.

  8. @9: You’d be suprised how good their English is. They are taught it from a young age in school and by the age of 11ish they can speak and write in English.

  9. What OS was it running? A 13 year old dropout in India wouldn’t know English. How did he type the web addresses?
    Ok, I’ll try to watch Mitra’s video when it comes out before asking smart questions.

  10. What OS was it running? A 13 year old dropout in India wouldn’t know English. How did he type the web addresses?
    Ok, I’ll try to watch Mitra’s video when it comes out before asking smart questions.

  11. For more info on this 2002 experiment, try search term “india wall computer village”.

    The results might be even more interesting with today’s interfaces… “Hmm, why doesn’t it work like my mobile phone does” might even come up…. ;-)

  12. For more info on this 2002 experiment, try search term “india wall computer village”.

    The results might be even more interesting with today’s interfaces… “Hmm, why doesn’t it work like my mobile phone does” might even come up…. ;-)

  13. I also learnt about this project in a Microsoft Research (MSR) India presentation yesterday. They gave this as an example about the exciting work happening in relating emerging markets with the modern technology.

    MSR India is also doing a bunch of other exciting projects which we sitting here in all the luxuries do not even realize are needed.

    It is amazing to see how people in emerging markets use a dumb phone as their PC and SMS as their internet. I do not have a much faith in OLPC in India, because I think the solution lies in two things. One, enabling their cell phones as their PCs. Two, for occasional richer proposes, enable a regular PC as their community PC.

    In this regard I think multi-mouse is a more powerful idea than, say, multi-touch.

    I invite to all Scoble’s readers to MSR India website, http://research.microsoft.com/india to see an exciting set of projects researchers in India get to do! I am almost jealous of them:)

  14. I also learnt about this project in a Microsoft Research (MSR) India presentation yesterday. They gave this as an example about the exciting work happening in relating emerging markets with the modern technology.

    MSR India is also doing a bunch of other exciting projects which we sitting here in all the luxuries do not even realize are needed.

    It is amazing to see how people in emerging markets use a dumb phone as their PC and SMS as their internet. I do not have a much faith in OLPC in India, because I think the solution lies in two things. One, enabling their cell phones as their PCs. Two, for occasional richer proposes, enable a regular PC as their community PC.

    In this regard I think multi-mouse is a more powerful idea than, say, multi-touch.

    I invite to all Scoble’s readers to MSR India website, http://research.microsoft.com/india to see an exciting set of projects researchers in India get to do! I am almost jealous of them:)

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  16. “This one talk alone was worth coming to LIFT.”

    Yeah, this one is rocking!

    PS: Damn, are you a fast blogger. I definitely need an upgrade regarding my multitasking-capabilities ;-).

  17. “This one talk alone was worth coming to LIFT.”

    Yeah, this one is rocking!

    PS: Damn, are you a fast blogger. I definitely need an upgrade regarding my multitasking-capabilities ;-).

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