April 2007

Social noise at the technological ‘last mile’

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Sarvodaya Virtual Village: an experimentation

“The general perception that once ICTs are brought to a community, the people will embrace them automatically and extract benefits from them, needs to be put to test”, says Ananya Raihan from D.Net, Bangladesh. On the day two, 7th February, of eAsia 2007, in Putrjaya, Malaysia, insightful case studies from Asian telecentres were discussed and scrutinised. The parallel session on 'Sarvodaya Virtual Village: Noise at the Last Mile' shed new light on reception of telecentres in rural communities: how the experience may vary upon social context, rather than the sophistication of latest technologies.

Sarvodaya (Fusion) and D.net joint study titled: 'Understanding Socio-Anthropological     Aspects of ICTs' Impact on Rural Community' conducted between September, 2006-January 2007, revealed that the caste system mattered in accessing the services in a telehut; that ethnic minorities were more ready than the majority to learn and use new technologies; and the use of ICTs for livelihood is a matter of behavioural change as much as technology diffusion, which takes time, irrespective of age, sex and education.

'Sarvodaya Virtual Village: Noise at the Last Mile' is shedding new light on reception of telecentres in rural communities

Influence of socio-cultural factors

“The human element is more important than the technical component” said Harsha Wijayawardhana from the School of Computing in University of Colombo, who researched the last mile connectivity options for rural villages in two communities- Meewala, Gampaha, and Kuda Oya, Hatton. “In reality, telecentre in a village follows a top down model where usually an either organisation or a person plays a dominant role” he added. “There is no indication that connectivity options

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