Wednesday, August 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Click Online | Kenya pilots handheld education

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Click Online | Kenya pilots handheld education: "In the final report of Click Online's Africa season, we visit Kenya where a trial project using handheld computers could help reduce the costs of education in poor communities."
When we were in South Africa, one of the striking realities we encountered is the scarcity of paper. Restaurants use tiny, barely adequate paper napkins, students ask professors how many pages they are to write for an assignment to determine how many sheets they need to buy. And of course, the ability to buy books is limited. I was surprised to discover a real interest in the digital library I'm proposing. There may be more willingness to use electronic books in Africa than in the US.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of paper for organizing knowledge (The Social Life of Paper). It would be interesting to think about this in a global context. Do cultures in which paper is scarce use paper to organize knowledge in the same ways? What about oral cultures?