Overhype

by Mike Masnick




Aren't There More Important Things Than A Website For A Poor Rural Village?

from the it-takes-a-village... dept

Technology clearly has a place in helping poorer areas of the world lift themselves up -- but too often it seems like technology isn't used in any strategic fashion, but simply because it's there. That's why it was nice to see India at least recognize that there may be more important things to focus on instead of just handing everyone a $100 laptop. However, one village in rural India seems awfully excited that they've now got their very own website, despite the fact that almost no one in the village has surfed the internet. The website was built by a former villager who left the village to become a web designer. There's nothing wrong with building the village a website, and perhaps opening up new avenues for commerce and communication within the village -- but it seems like some villagers are expecting this one website to do a lot more than it's likely to do. One farmer announces that the website "will be a revolution." Others believe that the website will force the government not to ignore the village any more. They almost sound like companies when they first put up websites a decade ago and simply assumed the world would beat a mouse-driven path to their door. Having a website is nice, but it is not the solution to all of the village's problems -- and having people in the village think so may simply add to the problems the village faces.

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  • identicon
    Just Me, 14 Aug 2006 @ 5:15am

    small step, lead to bigger steps

    Perhaps you are right in a sense that having a website doesn't automatically change things for the better or for the worse.

    However, it seems that a lot of interest has been generated from those who live the village. Of course, they may not understand what a website does, or can do to help them gain some interest from the outside world. At the least, it seems to give them "hope" that their goverment will listen to their needs.

    Who knows, the website might inspire the young in the village to take up IT and educate themselves. At the end of the day, we all have to start from somewhere. So good for them, I hope that get the interest they need.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rick Ash, 14 Aug 2006 @ 10:05am

      Re: small step, lead to bigger steps

      Ah, Thank Goodness. Another fatally optimistic person like me. Why can't there be some good in it?
      They make fun pf people like us you know but, let them. How awful it must be to wake up every day with an "Oh my God, it's another morning!" whereas I wake up with a "Thank god, it's another morning!"

      Better be nice to even the small villages in India. They are already outbidding us ( along with China ) for goods and services that only a few years ago, we assumed were ours, and ours alone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agonizing Fury, 14 Aug 2006 @ 5:19am

    Maybe not...

    It seems to me that maybe this is just what the village needed. it's not the website itself that will help, but the hope that it is bringing them. perhaps they may not get all of the advantages that they talked about in the article, but it gave people who had no dreams a reason to dream.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vishy, 14 Aug 2006 @ 5:19am

    Rural village?

    All villages are rural, by definition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter Schmalfeldt, 14 Aug 2006 @ 5:24am

    Proof is in the pudding...

    The fact that techdirt has written an article about this site seems to imply the exact opposite of what this article writes about when it states that this village has “assumed the world would beat a mouse-driven path to their door.” Isn’t that exactly what you just did?

    - Peter

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Solomon Movva, 14 Aug 2006 @ 10:01am

      Re: Proof is in the pudding...

      I agree. This may not solve even one of this village's current problems. But typically, people get new ideas and they can start using this site for various pertinent things, that improve commerce in the village. As long as people recognize that and go about it, the sky may be the limit for future development.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 2:44pm

        Re: Re: Proof is in the pudding...

        Assuming the village is relatively unconnected... how do you they plan on contacting the website developer?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 5:33am

    http://www.smartvillages.org/hansdehar/index.htm Just another dull web site to gather dust from neglect. How many of the people who have computers and would care about this site, read English anyway?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 5:44am

    I agree with commenter #1 . It probably wont solve all of their problems, and my guess is most of the villagers probably dont even know what a website does.

    But being connected does give the villagers an opportunity to explore the rest of the world. Maybe someone will find a job. Maybe somr farmer will find a way to increase crop yield. Maybe some mother will find a doctor for her sick child. You never know. Also, not all villages in India are poor. Many villages I've been to have sattellite tv and MTV, so seeing a website isnt all that surprising.

    Like already stated, it won't solve all their problems, but its a start, hopefully for the better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gurpreet, 14 Aug 2006 @ 6:34am

    It will help

    all yo peeps out dere y do u think a freakin site like techdirt.com prevails, it to gain more popularity n fame n name..so wats d harm if a village bak in india has it own site..thy r promotin their village for good. so all ya envious peeps out dere shut d hell up!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Topher3105, 14 Aug 2006 @ 6:47am

    I agree

    I have heard of times when a rual village was able to build a well because they sold crafts and wares on eBay and having Internet access allows them a better quality of life.

    But, these tend ot be rare and special occurences, and at the heart of it, there tends to be someone entrepeneur from a G8 country pulling the strings and turning these situations into a business model using cheap labour to turn a tidy profit off of those struggling to live.

    In reality, Intenet is a luxury and once a country has the necessary infrastructure to provide safe water, food clothing and shelter, as well as political stability, then you can start to focus on education and infromation services. Education DOES NOT improve a childs life if they can't survive long enough to finish school. Most people assume that once a child gets a good enough education, they can solve their countries problems, but if those problems prevent the child from being healthy, then school/education/Internet is not the immediate solution.

    I have been largely dismayed by the assumption that all a poor country needs is $100 laptops and Internet access and they will be fine. Its like saying, here is a bandaid, cure world hunger, cure AIDS, cure drought with it, but don't bug us once we give you access.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 6:50am

    Try umm, maybe buying them like Farm equipment, or perhaps upgrade their water/sewage systems. Or perhaps another novel idea would be to use this money to somehow further the village's overall infrastructure.

    I'm not opposed to them getting laptops, but the priorities should be straight. Although - there's a good chance if they can get to the web they may learn some new farming techniques. They may also learn the true depths of human stupidity, lol.

    You know - seriously - some stuff to improve daily living and perhaps one computer the community could use might just do the trick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jonathan, 14 Aug 2006 @ 6:57am

    what about internet access?

    A substantial part of this article focuses not on the website for this village, but on the need for internet access for the villagers. Having your own web site is great, and sure, the Reuters article helps publicize it, but unless people in India actually see the site, not too much may come of it. It sounds, though, like what these people really need is internet access themselves. That's where the opportunities actually will come from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ryan, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:13am

    Umm.. the guy that designed that calls himself a professional web designer? He needs a new job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lay Person, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:32am

    Lame...

    As in Shawshank, hope can be a dangerous thing. It passifies while there may be other more viable avenues.

    Instead of filling these peoples heads with grandiose websites, why don't they develop/generate real revenue (i.e. farm equipment, schools, utilities, etc).

    Perhaps training the villagers in some sort of skill that they can really utilize.

    So they have a website...big deal. I know lots of village websites...all they do is sit there or act as a communication among the villagers. It hardly changes anything other than knowing when the town meetings are.

    I wonder what the web designer charged the government for developing the site?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:38am

    Mixed feelings...

    Yes the site could open up new venues of communication which could lead to someone contacting them to offer assistance with their farming methods, a grant to upgrade the sewage system, or increase the local budget for education.

    At the same time it could be argued that the money could have just gone straight to the things I just listed. Maybe the site was created under the "Give a man a fish..." notion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Raekwon, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:39am

    We know about it now.

    Well I think it's having some effect if you're writing about some random village in India now. It's doubtful that their commerce would increase considering they most likely have nothing to offer that a larger more convienient city would possess.

    They got a few people's attention though, that's for sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rabid Woverine, 14 Aug 2006 @ 8:13am

    Website for rural village

    It is not a bad idea. Website's bring education and education is a two way street. Education is also the single most important element in escaping poverty, without it you can't even start the race, let alone run it.
    I think it's a good idea and I also think it's a wonderful gift from their prodigal son.
    It's too bad that some of you out there can't see the forest for the tiny bits of dirt on the bark...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lay Person, 14 Aug 2006 @ 9:33am

      Re: Website for rural village

      To #7.

      Clearly there is a cultural bias to your argument.

      What does this town need a website or $100 laptops?

      Answer: neither.

      They need infrastructure, sewage, clean water, electricity, revenue, etc.

      No one cares about the website but the site developer and that guy who thinks a revolution is around the corner.

      Shelter, eating, shiting, domesticating...these are the things that are important to the poverty stricken. Not porn, Ebay, and Techdirt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rabid Woverine, 14 Aug 2006 @ 8:14am

    Website for rural village

    It is not a bad idea. Website's bring education and education is a two way street. Education is also the single most important element in escaping poverty, without it you can't even start the race, let alone run it.
    I think it's a good idea and I also think it's a wonderful gift from their prodigal son.
    It's too bad that some of you out there can't see the forest for the tiny bits of dirt on the bark...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    rush3k, 14 Aug 2006 @ 8:27am

    The Bull

    I wonder who stole the Bull. Maybe Aliens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    KC, 14 Aug 2006 @ 8:46am

    Website for villages

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Spencer Roads, 14 Aug 2006 @ 9:03am

    A website?

    Extraordinary. "It will open new avenues of communication and commerce within the village". Really? When most of the villagers probably can't even read?

    "Website's (sic) bring education..." By what mechanism, precisely, do they do that? Don't you have to see a website (and be able to read it) to be educated by it?

    Maybe the prodigal son should go back and teach them not to put waste in their water supply, teach them how to manage their land to be more productive and maybe teach them how to make something that others may want to buy. Then they can pass those skills onto their children, and perhaps give them some real hope, not the false, cargo-cult hope brought by something they probably don't even really understand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    sky9, 14 Aug 2006 @ 9:22am

    Look at how resources are dominated by communication, simple health and agricultural improvement isn't going to help when the products of that improvement are controlled by the people with their fingers on the keyboards. They'll learn to read from their website.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jsnbase, 14 Aug 2006 @ 9:35am

    Again with the unfounded assumptions

    'Poor rural village' does not automatically mean 'destitute and starving.'

    "When most of the villagers probably can't even read?"

    You have no evidence for that and, according to the article, are probably wrong. Even if 'most' couldn't read, there's clearly a young and aware segment of the community. Yes, they want more reliable electricity and cleaner water, but I live in Los Angeles and I want the same things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lay Person, 14 Aug 2006 @ 9:50am

      Re: Again with the unfounded assumptions

      Wow, where in L.A.?

      Could you use a $100.00 laptop?

      How about a website?

      These are guaranteed to get get you both electricity and water.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Spencer Roads, 14 Aug 2006 @ 11:55am

      Re: Again with the unfounded assumptions

      I don't know if you've been to India. "Poor rural village" probably does mean destitute.

      With average male and female literacy rates in Haryana (where the village of Hansdehar is located) less than 80% and 57% respectively, perhaps some of them could read a website (probably not in English, though), if their average income of 10,000 to 13,000 rupees (1 rupee is about $0.02, so these people make $260 per year) supported their buying a computer of any sort.

      Nope, a website isn't the way to prosperity for the villagers of Hansdehar. They need a blog! Maybe even one of the 2.0 variety.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 3:11pm

        Re: Re: Again with the unfounded assumptions

        "Nope, a website isn't the way to prosperity for the villagers of Hansdehar. They need a blog!"

        OOOh, and RFID, it solves all problems. Just think, the residents could be tracked 24x7 by their RFID implants, and that data could be loaded into their blog (that they cant even read cause they dont actually have computers).

        Now THAT would raise them from destitution.

        /sarcasm

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bernard, 14 Aug 2006 @ 9:38am

    websites for villages - rural or not

    Why do people have web sites? Few individuals conduct any commerce on their personal web sites anyway. May be the village does not have any problems. They just want a site to state their presence.

    A village web site can hint to a future social-economic-business model where a nation (a concept relatively new) will one day disappear ... a village (town, city) is all you need ... we're back to the nation-city (1400s) economic model ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Q Public, 14 Aug 2006 @ 10:02am

    missing the point

    did you ever stop to think that these rural villages don't know what they need because they don't know what's out there to improve their lives?

    give them the chance to exchange information with the rest of the world and they will start to want the things that will improve their lives.

    instead of us telling them what they need, they will figure it out for themselves and demand what is needed among themselves.

    what would happen to North Korea if we could drop a million laptops with internet access all over the country? they would figure out that they've been lied to for generations and overthrow their government.

    oppresive governments remain oppresive because they control information. unleash the truth, stand back, and watch the bullets fly. who is more likely to succeed? the person who needed help to get out of the hole, or the person who figured out how to get out on thier own?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Exodus, 14 Aug 2006 @ 10:38am

    Cool Website. I hope to see more villages put up there.

    Current village problems:
    Power Supply
    Power distribution timings are not stable and power cuts happen abruptly. The condition of electric wires is awesome and needs to be replaced at a number of places.

    Un-employment
    There are a number of unemployed youth.
    -E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 11:57am

    Urban Village

    The East Village, New York City anyone?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 12:39pm

    Yup...

    Just what the world needs another website about a poor village in some god-forsaken location.

    I haven't seen it but let me guess the contents:

    - Text of life in a poor village.

    - Pictures of a poor village.

    - Pictures of poor people swatting flys in a poor village.

    Gee, now what. They'll still be poor and they'll still have a very bad fly problem.

    Is it just me, cuz I find no value at all in any of this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 7:07am

    But a website they can start with one red paperclip, and trade up to a sewage system. Right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hargurnaz, 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:23am

    no wonder

    What's strange in this in the country where more and more people are opting IT as a career option to earn handsomely.

    Hargurnaz Singh
    Webmaster
    Jalandhar Mag - Yellow pages directory
    Crispyweb - the Indian Multi Search Engine

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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