Digitata.org plans to provide the resources and information to local communities, NGOs, aid orginisations on how to build a digitata and technical specifications to manufactures who wish to support the principals by creating the hardware. To become a central repository of technical specifications and experiences to help everybody. The ultimate vision to see digitatas grown all over the world where access to the internet and teaching resources is limited, that children around the world have the opportunity to discover technology for themselves. Achieving this by means of low cost mass produced standardised kits which can be customised to their environments and owned by the communities in which they are grown.
The ProblemToday the average person who is reading this can read this from a device that he carries in his pocket. The information may be
transmitted tens of kilometres away, with a battery that fits in the
palm of a hand, with technology that is several years old. Today Wifis have been implemented with ranges in excess of 300km at 3Mbps!
But this flexibility and ease of access to knowledge has not reach
large percentage of the population. How can low power devices be
developed – a mobile phone turned into a terminal – where there are limited power sources and low cost technology be disseminated to where it will have its maximum impact.
Current internet penetration in most African countries isbelow 10%. The reasons for this are many and diverse, but the ones we wish to overcome in this project are:
- Training & Human resources
The development of the Square Kilometre Array Telescope, in Africa, will require the installation of internet infrastructure reaching across Africa paralleled with the laying of undersea cables. The prosperous future implications of access to this information highway can only be obtained if people are educated in its use. As soon as this primary infrastructure becomes available we would like to have the framework of digitata complete that it can be cultivated and start to grow.
The first step in this growth is bringing the technology to the
children. How is this achieved by affordable means? This site is
dedicated to achieving that goal by developing ideas and standards
that anybody can implement. The goal is the creation of low bandwidth internet terminals which require external hardware of less than 200€. To bring a library, to bring knowledge, to bring power every child no matter where!
A cheep infrastructure for basic internet exposure, where each
terminal will impact the lives of 20 or more children. The project is
to provide exposure to technology and information – the foundations which will provide future growth. The project is about finding creative solutions to overcome energy and resource limitations, requiring design ideas limited to local materials.
The basic principle of the infrastructure will be to grow a tree like
Adansonia digitata – the Boabab. Like the Boabab provides for people drawing from the earth to become a landmark, then providing shade for indabas and fruit to feed the body, so digitata's roots will tap into the infrastructure laid down for science and commerce, its branches will be digits reaching out to others and it will bear the fruits knowledge. Each digitata becomes a node serving others and served by others giving digital inclusion (not the provision of high speed internet access).
The solution to the problem of Training and Human resources has
already been discovered by Dr. Sugata Mitra in his research on the
ability of children to teach themselves in his “Hole in the wall
project”. A child's development is only limited by the domains they can explore. Digitata is a digital tree through which children are free to climb and discover as they would any other tree. The fruits of this discovery will germinate in years to come. The goal of Digitata.org is to grow these trees for feeding the minds of the next generation. As such digitata is designed to be a low power, low cost, low maintenance and simple machine that children can learn to understand, which with time may grow into a dense lush forest.
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Internet penetration by percentage of population (2010)