Wednesday, December 27, 2006,10:37 AM
Computers in the Slums
This past year I began a subscription to Ode Magazine, an international news magazine "for intelligent optimists." I've been intending to blog about it for some time, but especially to blog about some of the articles I read in it. Ode is printed on recycled paper and is a refreshing reminder that the USA isn't the only nation in the world. Ode's mission statement describes itself -
We are an independent international journal, without strings to the world of commerce and power. We believe in progress, ongoing opportunities and the creativity of mankind. We contribute to progress by publishing stories about the people and ideas that are making a difference. We address society’s problems too, because they represent opportunities for positive change. We publish the stories that bridge the gap between thinking and doing, between rage and hope, and the painful gap between the rich and the poor. By doing so we build peace and sustainability. This is the news we promise to deliver. We offer our readers the chance to link up with an international network of inspiration and cooperation, strengthening the forces devoted to respect, justice and equality. In doing so we hope to invite them to make their own contribution to a more just and sustainable world.
I've found it to be a great read and a eye-opening source of information. As a Christian I am encouraged to see what the world and people of all faiths are doing to make this world a better place (work for Kingdom values as it were).

In Ode's most recent issue, I read a fascinating article about a project to help street kids in the slums of India become literate and educated by providing free internet connected computer kiosks. On these computers the children can play literacy games, surf the web, learn geography, and "draw" pictures (a novelty for kids with little to no access to pencils and paper). Observes (through webcams) have noticed that even without supervision the children organize systems of turn taking and through experimentation figure out how to use the technology. In a country where education (where it exists at all) is poor and still relies on rote learning methods the ability to think critically and independently and have technology skills is a huge asset to these children.

The founder of this project, Sugata Mitra, believes that providing the poor with education and skills will help foster global cooperation and peace. While economic disparity can lead to theft and violence, the acquisition of knowledge requires friendship. He just want to help make access to that knowledge available to everyone. In some ways his project is similar to the One Laptop Per Child project that is still getting underway. I find both to be fascinating projects to help the most disadvantaged in our world have a fair chance.

Read the full article here.

Find out more about the project at Hole in the Wall.
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posted by Julie at 10:37 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 12/28/2006 12:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I just bought a few magazines for my plane ride and Ode was one of them. I had never heard of it before. Sounds like a winner. Good and Peace Power were the other two unknowns to me and The Economist was my standard. I also just subscribed to Geez (waiting on my first issue) I'll see you guys soon!


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