Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Each Christmas we celebrate the birth of the One whom God annointed to proclaim good news to the poor (Luke.4.18). "News" is information, and the disparity of access to information is one of the many factors that work against the poor, particularly in the developing world.

The recent newsletter from World Vision includes a great overview article on the poor and Internet communications technology by Bryant Myers (PDF reader required). Some of the programs he points to:

  • Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) focuses on the role of information in supporting development by providing several hundred publications like "A Beekeeping Guide", "Small-scale Brickmaking", and "One kW River Generator". They're working to set up a network of low-orbiting satellites together with battery and solar-powered radios to make email possible in remote villages.
  • The mission of the Committee for Democracy in Information Technology is "To promote the social inclusion of low-income communities, by using information and communication technologies as tools for building and exercising citizens rights." They're recycling old hardware and software to turn street kids into computer science and citizenship instructors.
  • TARAhaat.com is an Indian portal supporting 11 national languages and providing access to products and services not easily available by other means
  • Digital Dividend has an e-mail newsletter reporting on projects to "promote sustainable solutions for bridging the digital divide"

These and other organizations in Myers' article are trying to use new technology to help those who sit in darkness (Matt.4.16), both economic and spiritual. This is a good time of year to consider how your own life and skills might serve to bring good information to the poor.


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