Saturday, July 22, 2006

Microfinance - Rural Internet Kiosk Killer App

What started as a conversation about how to
enable would be rural internet operators apply
to the internet for start-up funding has broadened
into a larger conversation of how to train internet
operators to help members of their community submit
loan applications to online loan services like

Friday, July 14, 2006

more edu 2.0 ...

- videoblog training
make training videos for the web using all available
low cost technologies - esp. screencasting , but also
ppt presentations, and talking into the camera. develop
a standard format for this, which includes lecture, screencast,
and question and answer from the audience (probably asynchronous

- blogging & forums, students should spend a substantial
amount of time blogging and answering questions on forums.
this will build up a reputation for them individual as well as for
the organization generally

- open source, the core technologies we work with are open source
contributing to these projects helps to establish us as experts in the
field, it also does alot for building up development process discipline,
and networking with high level people in the industry.

- probono, rentacoder, elance ...
fairly early in people's training they should start doing probono projects
for non-profits, and start to take very low paying jobs off of elance and
rentacoder. this will get people experience working on real projects.

- full price paying contracts

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cyber cafe business potential untapped -Educational Centres

The Asianage (11/25/2005 10:43:55 PM)
Mumbai, Nov. 25: Cyber cafes in India have the potential to become the educational centres of our nation, said Mr R.N. Bhaskar, chairman, E-Convergence Technologies Ltd, at a seminar on Thursday on “cyber cafes future prospects and challenges.”

“While we have only 5,50,000 broadband connections, China has 30 million. Using cyber cafes for education can become big business with the advent of voice telephony and the increase in broadband connections in the nation,” he said.

With a major dearth of skilled teachers in the country and with only three per cent of the population having completed graduate study, cyber experts suggested the use of virtual education classes over broadband connections as an effective method in lowering the cost of education and in reaching out to rural villages. There are more than 1,05,000 cyber cafes in the country and cyber cafes were reported to be growing at 45 per cent annually.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

getting started

Brajeshwar whom i work with has some extra space in an office up in anderi, mumbai. Its already well wired and has computers, desks and some administrative support.

I've been working with Zack Rosen to set up a internship program for junior software developers in india to get experience working on Drupal. So far this has been a work from home project.

I am exploring with Brajeshwar the idea of doing something alittle more ambitious at his space in mumbai.

from a letter to zack:

my goals are to:
- actively improve the opensource codebase (and ancillary things like
testing and docs)
by having quality developers contribute to it.
- increase the number of open source developers
- increase the number of developers who are able to effectively
configure and deploy
drupal based websites
- create sites and provide support for ngo type organizations that
have worthy causes
but wouldn't necessarily have the skills or resources to build or
hire contractors to
build websites for them.

towards this i would like to hire a couple people to work on
civicspace full time.
this could be treated similarly as the summer of code trainings, only with the
expectation that this is an ongoing thing. additionally we might have a small
'class' of interns / students who would be going thru this as a
training process.

i would like them to:
- actively contribute to the codebase. possibly filling in holes that are hard
to get volunteer contributors to work on.
- provide training to other individuals and to create video training materials
helping people to understand how to use civicspace
- possibly as part of student projects provide support for non-profit
- eventually possibly opening up to do paid contract work

i would also like to establish a Node101 there. I feel the video production group is critical at all lecture / learning opprotunities. With people doing web development, software development, and video production for the web - we have a humble but sustainable beginning to a next generation technical institute.

capital irrigation

are cybercafes the technical institutes of tomarro ?
of today ?

apparently running a cybercafe in the developing world
isn't an especially lucrative business yet. in india the
average per hour rate for access is 15 rupees. ~ 27 cents.

education however is a big market. all the way down the
social stratosphere people are looking to gain technology
skills to help them rise out of poverty.

cybercafes have become very prevalent , even in very
impoverished areas.

if a concerted effort was made to produce video training materials
in the urban centers where there are a wealth of very educated and
technicaly trained people. this content could form the lecture base
to a very broad distributed educational system available wherever
cybercafes are.

to be maximally effective this should be developed into a program
in which a very large and explicit part of passing thru the system
was mentoring students younger in the program.

if structured correctly, this kind of thing could scale very largely
with minimal capital contribution, and would create tribes / clans
of people with experience working together.

this could also be tied to a system like mechanical turk , elance or
rentacoder which provides jobs that can be executed via the internet
such that an ecology is created in which the internet connection the
cafe operators bring in to a community are used both to deliver jobs
and the training necessary to perform them.

or more succinctly:
for those able to speak its language
the internet connection becomes a hose which spews money

think of it as capital irrigation

edu 2.0 part II

a supportive space for developers and apprentices
on open source projects to gather and ply their trade.

here are the rough categories i feel are important to developers
coming of age right now, especially in developing areas like india.

video & media production : fcp / premiere / ...
design : photoshop / flash ...
web development : flash / css / dreamweaver / ...
content management : civicspace / sugarcrm / ...
development : php / ruby / java / javascript / ajax ...
frameworks : rails / hibernate / dojo ...
database : mysql / postres ...
sysadmin : linux
networking : wifi / mesh / traditional ...
financing : ...
ecommerce : ...
logistics & import / export : ...

an interesting excersize is to go thru this list
and look for existing foundations which serve these
spaces now

video: node101,
ajax: dojo foundation
frameworks: apache foundation
database: ...

please let me know suggestions for others.

video blogging is especially important to the mix
as the video people can create training videos from the experiences
of everyone else learning how to use their respective technologies.
this increases visibility for the vertical "expert", the videographer,
and also adds to the global knowledgebase, helping other people pick
up the technology easier.

edu 2.0

i've been thinking about what a university
or technical institute should look like in a web 2.0
world in which internet connectivity is given.

certification, long a major impediment to independent training
institutes seems less important in an era of google an ego surfing.

so, that aspect of training which is focused on helping you to
land a job (as contrasted with perform a job) could / should be
devoted to helping students develop online credible profiles which
demonstrate competence in the areas claimed by the resume with links
to actual code - ideally in use in popular open source systems.

long term involvement with the larger open source projects could
be invalueable to the aspireing technical worker. possibly most
importantly by immersing the student in a strict development process
in which the user experiences the interpersonal protocols surrounding
development on large scale software projects.

in an ideal scenario students would also receive meaningful feedback from
very senior people on the team which would do wonders for improving
the quality of code they were producing. These mentors could also become
references and possibly sources of jobs.

it may also lead to a scene in which the distinction between a persons
'student life' and 'work life' became less distinct and one in which the
bonds between groups of individuals who liked to work together became
stronger and longer lasting than the ties to the corporate funding structure
du jour.