[Telecentres] Re: telecentres Digest, Vol 1, Issue 43

Andy Carvin acarvin at edc.org
Wed Sep 29 15:38:59 BST 2004

I think one of the many exercises we will have to explore is mapping out 
the diversity of telecentres -- from rural telecottages to urban 
community ICT production centers, to everything in between -- and what 
other activities would we consider (or not consider) within our frame of 

The wireless example is a good one. I'm at MIT this week, and it's a 
pleasure taking my laptop anywhere on campus and being fully connected 
to the internet. Other neighborhoods in Boston have free public wi-fi as 
well, and the city of Philadelphia is building a city-wide wi-fi 
network. Does this make it a telecenter? No. Does this mean it's not an 
important aspect of bridging the digital divide? I'd say it's quite 
important. But it's still different than a telecentre. It's more like 
ubiquitous public computing, minus the curriculum and community.

To me, telecentres, telecottages, CTCs, etc, provided added value beyond 
a PC connected by a wire (or a signal) to the Internet. It's their 
people, their educational courses, their community activities, their 
civic engagement, and their neighborhood leadership that make them a 
telecentre. I think in an ideal world, we would all have equitable, 
ubiquitous access to the Internet at home and wirelessly, but even if we 
did, telecentres would still serve as community institutions in which 
people could come together to get hands-on training, learn about new 
technologies, co-produce community content, and other activities you 
would associate with a non-ICT community center, but in an ICT context.

Or, to offer a gross simplication:

community + knowledge production + learning + ICTs = telecentre

Perhaps what we would eventually want to do is offer a broad concept of 
what telecentres and related public community ICT centres can contribute 
to the world, then outline related activities that are somewhat 
different from telecentres but still within their sphere of interest, 
such as ubiquitous public wifi, community networks, etc.


Taran Rampersad wrote:

> Random thought: What's the difference between a telecenter and laptop
> computers/portable computers (such as the Simputer) with wireless
> internet access? Is a telecenter really limited to a geographic center,
> or is it instead a virtual center of which we speak. I think the latter
> gives us more options, but I'm not 100% sure it's a telecenter.

Andy Carvin
Program Director
EDC Center for Media & Community
acarvin @ edc . org

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