The Interwebs are not just for plumbing lessons!

Interesting NYT OP-ED, asking that poor people in developing nations be allowed to just hook up to the internet and have fun!

Here is a nice chunklet:

The Indian government has several valiant plans to bring Internet access to the villages, but they largely center on connecting government offices for ID databases and for software simulation to teach citizens skills like plumbing. Wouldn’t it be better if the poor were offered direct connectivity over their phones, free or cheap, and were left to decide what they wanted to do with it?

Mr. Zuckerberg’s belief that connectivity is a human right is honorable. Where he and his allies err is in imagining that fun is not, and in underestimating the power of entertainment to transform society. Chatting with friends online may not save the world, but if it can get more people to log on, the rest will follow.

Many years ago, when I worked for a lifestyle magazine, I was given my worst assignment ever. I had to call some of the richest people in southern India and ask them what they usually had for breakfast. The first man I called told me, “I don’t eat gold biscuits.” It was a well-deserved reprimand for presuming that rich people were somehow different from other humans.

It is equally ridiculous to presume that what poor people want from the Internet is lessons in plumbing.

The conflict between what the donors want and what the recipients want seems to almost be universal.


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