The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Here's a novel use of wi-fi to extend the Internet into an unlikely corner of the globe: Rural Cambodia. Motorcyclists with wireless chipsets on their bikes run slow routes through remote villages, uploading and downloading daily email deliveries to local computers. As Larry Larsen notes, it's a clever workaround for realizing the "last mile" of Internet connectivity.

I find it extremely interesting, as it almost retro-fits email back to postal mail delivery. Essentially, you have an "emailman" coming around to make his daily rounds, picking up and sending out the day's email messages during a certain time window each day. It's far from the convenience of almost-instant communication we take for granted (imagine trying instant messaging this way!), but it's definitely better than nothing.

Wirless technology in general has opened up so many avenues in the developing world... I recall that mobile phone technology was a boon to much of Africa, allowing countries there to leapfrog over the development of landline-based telecommunications. The "digital pony express" in Cambodia looks like a first step toward a similar development for the Web.