Regarding the messages of Herman Wasserman and Cliff Missen, this is interesting but there is a danger I think in any strategy that seeks to rely on intermediaries. Cliff uses the word "griot" but in fact it may be more like "marabout" or priest (although these latter analogies are not perfect either) - a class of more educated people to mediate between common folk and the knowledge (technology), and by extension do the interpreting for them.
Cliff is right to point out the use of notes and more knowledgeable or mobile intermediaries in communications. Long before internet, of course, there were some people who would help their illiterate neighbors to write letters. But such is no one's ideal, just something that works. Likewise for e-mail etc. Access is the issue and that has 2 parts in the case of computers & intenet: the physical aspect (are you in proximity and can you afford to log on?) and the meaningful or "soft" aspect (if you had physical access and found yourself seated in front of a connected computer, would anything make sense?). The latter overlaps with user skills of course (basic literacy again, and now computer literacy) but depends also on the user interface, design of software, content, and language. The fact is that even, say, the old lady who grilled kebabs and fried sliced yams in front of the Binnta cybercafé in Bamako - and most of the passers by who would sit and eat on the corner there - would have to send something through an intermediary not because of distance (assuming for a moment that access fee inside was not a problem) but because the technology would not facilitate their use of their first language, written, or provide for mailing an audio message (for the lady and others among them who were not literate). I'm not at all comfortable with the notion of person-to-person or web-to-individual(s) information being mediated where it's not absolutely necessary, and then only as a temporary strategy and with as few transformations as possible - i.e., if as a service, more like a postal relay (can what the sender says be recorded and transmitted exactly as such through the media to the receiver?) than like the traditional letter writer in much of Africa who hears in one language, translates into another, and writes a letter that may have to be back-translated on the other end. Maybe handhelds will help in this regard. On another level some internet for development efforts have relied on people who surf and translate (e.g., in connection with a local community radio) - in effect another kind of intermediary. This is certainly helpful, but if the vision does not extend to developing at least some content that bypasses the need for such intermediation (and interpretation), then it risks institutionalizing a relationship that by its nature keeps some people marginalized. Don Osborn Bisharat.net ------------ This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by the dot-ORG USAID Cooperative Agreement, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org provides more information. To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type: subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd For the GKD database, with past messages: http://www.GKDknowledge.org