January 31, 2004

Internet motoman....

Fun article on e-mail delivered by scooter...

...Since the system went into place last September at the new elementary school here in Cambodia's remote northeast corner, solar panels have been powering three computers. Once a day, an Internet "Motoman" rides a cherry red Honda motorcycle slowly past the school. On the passenger seat is a gray metal box with a short fat antenna. The box holds a wireless Wi-Fi chip set that allows the exchange of e-mail between the box and computers. Briefly, this schoolyard of tree stumps and a hand-cranked water well becomes an Internet hot spot.

It is a digital pony express: five Motomen ride their routes five days a week, downloading and uploading e-mail. The system, developed by a Boston company, First Mile Solutions, uses a receiver box powered by the motorcycle's battery. The driver need only roll slowly past the school to download all the village's outgoing e-mail and deliver incoming e-mail...

There's an inetresting insight into what Third World people need as the villagers debate what to put in their first e-mail message...
..."I think we should send a message to the governor, asking for land titles," said Kim Seng, 53, who owns a mud-floor restaurant, as his wife listened from a hammock. Conjuring up the power and prestige of a letter sent by computer, he added confidently, "The governor will pay attention to our issues."...
In many places development is stunted because people can't use their homes or land as collateral for loans, because there is no system for creating clear titles.

Posted by John Weidner at January 31, 2004 11:56 AM
Weblog by John Weidner