Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Three community projects with Jim Mora - Radio New Zealand National

I have just had a lovely 30 minute interview with Jim Mora of Radio New Zealand National talking about three online projects I think exemplify the best of community lead web projects.

One Laptop Per Child - Niue
The first is the news out of Niue [from the BBC] that they having taken delivery of 500 One Laptop per Child machines. This translates to one laptop for every child in this tiny Pacific Island country. This is the first of a number of different island initiatives which will see 500 laptops being distributed around the Pacific Islands.

The project is being lead by the the SPC [ Secretariat to the Pacific Community], as part of their Pacific Rural Internet Connectivity System. One of the key people on the team is the kiwi Ian Thomson who also worked, here in Aotearoa with the Tuhoe iwi on their project to wire their tribal mountain area - the Ureweras.

I love talking about this project - which is tasked to deliver fast/free Internet access, plus new machines, plus some open source community story telling software , Kete, to a growing number of public libraries in New Zealand

The current offerings are primarily rural. There is a blog, here, which tells some interesting tales. also, a map of the project libraries, here, plus the official site is here.

I blogged about the micro lending site Kiva recently. In addition to explaining how it works, in the interview Jim and I talk about the logic of bringing the principles of micro financing closer to home here in Aotearoa in particular and the Pacific in general.

Google Generation is a Myth
The the interview you will also get the familiar Reynolds refrain - when was it okay for this generation to give away the responsibility to invent the future for our kids. And by the by - our kids are stumbling around and need some help.
The research I quote out of the UK is , of course the now famous study from British Library and JISC, here.

Audio Links
The streaming audio link to the interview is here. MP3 link here
The RadioNZ programme page is here


Hamish said...

While I haven't had a chance to fully evaluate the JISC paper, some things did just leap off the page:

"Their traditional role as intermediaries, helping users to navigate large and complex library systems, is being threatened by services, like Google, that seem to offer almost unlimited information choice and bypass the library."

"The age differences are startling and they suggest that the shift away from the physical to the virtual library will accelerate very rapidly and that tools like GoogleScholar will be increasingly a real and present threat to the library as an institution."

"This is both a major threat and an opportunity for libraries: it is likely to further fuel interest in scholarly content by people concerned about their health or the environment, from small businesses and the `amateur scholar’."

While the output seems unremarkable, young people lack experience, more or less, with whatever tools they have inevitably shorter exposure to, there seems to be a lot of anxiety about the future of an incumbent gatekeeper as input to the analysis.

Perhaps my response is typical of the shallowness our new information overlords are engendering...

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

I always listen to and enjoy your National Radio slots.

I don't think you did Kiva justice though, with your early mention of $1,000 and the references to glamorous lenders. You also made it sound (accidentally I think) as though people *give* money rather than lending it.

I've been a Kiva lender for several years now and can say:

* you can lend as little as $US25. This makes it achievable for a huge number of folks.

* the total amount of loan requested varies from around US$100 to around $1000. I often see requests for the low hundreds.

* Kiva are already lending in the Pacific (search under 'Asia'). I've seen a number of requests from Samoa, though I haven't yet noticed any from other Pacific Island neighbours.

I can contribute some of my own experience towards reasons why Kiva may be achieving such popularity with lenders. I'm a sole trader and definitely not swimming in cash. Meeting tax and other payments can be a struggle.

Yet I'm very aware that compared with the population of the entire world I'm in the top 4 or 5% of wealthy people.

We in NZ have so much. A loan of $25 can actually change the life of a family in another country.

I also know that others have helped me out when things were tough and that was immensely important to me. I can return the favour, through Kiva.

When I make a Kiva loan I'm directly helping another, specific, business person to consolidate or grow their business. And I'll probably get my money back to then help another person.

Many very worthwhile charities say you're buying 'a pig' or 'a cow' to help people in need, but that's just a notion. You're donating $100 that goes into the general funds, and that $100 is what a pig or cow would cost.

With Kiva, when they say I'm lending to Murad I really am lending to Murad, not just to the notion of someone in need.

Thanks for letting us know about the Aotearoa Peoples Network. I write for NZ community groups about interesting and innovative ways to use the Internet. I'll explore the APN.

Our community group blog is at:

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