Taking the Internet to the People

At Internet outposts in India, Peru, and Hungary, even the computer illiterate reap the advantages of the Web

13 min read
Ethnographers from Intel Corp. in India listened to the concerns of local business owners.
Ethnographers from Intel Corp. circled the globe to observe indigenous Internet use. In India, they listened to the concerns of local business owners.
Photo: Tony Salvador/John Sherry

In the Morena District in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, an illiterate woman approaches the local soochak, the manager of an Internet kiosk. She complains about a water well that is not operating, and the soochak, for a small fee, uses a PC to enter her complaint on an electronic form, uploading it to a local hub, where it is registered with the authorities.

In Cuzco, Peru, a woman needs to contact her emigrant son in New York City for money to pay a doctor’s bill. An international phone call would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, she goes to the local cabina pública, a small public computer center, where voice-over-Internet capability allows her to make a short call to her son for a sol or less—about 30 US cents. She has been communicating with him in this way for the past seven years.

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