Oft I wonder where the world is headed with the plethora of problems surrounding us. Is the technology really worth it? One can't help but smile when told farmers track the weather forecast for their crops through innovations such as sms servers – mobiles being used since computers were not feasible and wouldn't survive the weather conditions. But the skeptic is bound to ask - was there even a need for it until the climate change came into picture?
Lofty goals of making a laptop reach every child are deterred by the mere thought about power consumption. This very fear drives the innovations in the alternative energy sources - wind power, solar power and a wonderful effort towards an oil free world! What about the amount of e-waste generated? Freecycle and such concepts alleviate the problems whereby the stuff that is no longer of use to one can be passed on to others like old computers and electronic gadgets.
You meet a visually impaired student who wishes to use the technology to aid in studies - scan his or her books and make them readable via tools on a computer. Good screen reading softwares comes at an exorbitant fee! What use is a technology that can't reach the ones who could make best use of it? Open source and free software come to the rescue providing almost equally good solutions absolutely free. The NGOs today can come up with an attractive websites for better visibility effortlessly with the multitude of tools available for free not to forget the ability to reach out using the social networking sites.
There aren't enough doctors to fight the overwhelming number of epidemics and ever increasing population only makes it extremely daunting. Tele-medicine pitches in making it possible for expert advice from around the globe to reach out like never before. The same technology makes learning fun for children who can't dream of quality education in the government schools with best of the videos produced after extensive research.
I have seen how the computers assist a special child in learning and the smiles it has brought on the faces of many parents. The wonder struck look in the eyes of kids eager to learn when they see a laptop for the first time is hard to forget. The ease of use now available with the much dreaded Linux in the form of distros such as Ubuntu elicited similar responses from people in villages and cities alike.
A bionic arm or leg can never replace the one lost to a land mine - one of the most formidable facets of technology. This very technology makes it possible for a physically challenged person manoevre his way on an automatic wheelchair. Plastics make it possible to make lighter and more comfortable wheelchairs. Those bothered by plastics can now seek relief in the fact that at least some of it is being used in making durable roads while others are re-using the bottles to sell fertilizers.
Today one can reach out to the whole world within a few keystrokes. Technology is used to spread the awareness about the ills of technology. The beautiful thing about technology has the power to heal the wrong that has been done. The human spirit is far from dampened and the real potential of these innovations is yet to be realized. I have always believed in the goodness of people and technology only supplements the same.
I so wish this kind of technology - discussion forums, blogs, e-magazines, social networks, social innovations and so on were available a few years back when I started working with the NGOs. It is hard to fathom the loss due to the inappropriate use of technology. But I have always looked at the brighter side of innovations and can't appreciate them enough for I can see the silver lining ever brightening! :)
Interested in the development sector and hoping to use the skills to create a positive impact......read more