Can Facebook and YouTube help the poor tackle their pressing problems? Or is this promise just hype? One is faced with tough questions: Can “Web 2.0 tools” directly influence the poor themselves? Can those interested in poverty work do better to start with the “situation” rather than the “technology”? Or should one think big and dream of a network of networks encompassing a billion children and their teachers, families and friends — nearly all of the poor people in the world, and most of the rich? BytesForAll co-founder and journalist Frederick Noronha takes a look at the issue.
For the first time, in September 2007, a large group of people involved in one way or another with development work met to discuss the possibilities and drawbacks of sophisticated web-based applications in situations of low bandwidth and limited access to powerful hardware. Many of them had the chance to experiment with the tools in a workshop APC co-organised at a conference called Web2forDev. The interest of this community, gradually expanding under the ‘Web2forDev’ label, focuses on how cutting-edge technology can help to close the gap in access to ICTs, as opposed to widening it further.