Why We're Needed

Did you know...

...over five billion people worldwide are not able to access the Internet due to lack of hardware, high connectivity costs, or low bandwidth?

Ethiopian student -2008The WiderNet Project Helps.

We're a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the information-poor with a first-class educational experience by delivering informational resources to underprivileged individuals on a global scale.

Staff members and volunteers alike work continuously to decrease the digital divide that exists between developed and developing countries worldwide, and between people with sufficient access to online information and those with limited digital communication resources.

Through numerous workshop and training opportunities, we provide participants and subscribers with the specific tools and training they need.

Assessing the Possibilities

On the surface, it seems like a simple technical issue: our counterparts need Internet connectivity. So our simple technical response might be: let's encourage them to buy computers and an Internet connection and then train them to use these things.

But as can be inferred, there's nothing so simple about...

  • Revolutionizing human communication...
  • Providing a voice to billions of individuals who have hitherto been unheard...
  • Promoting and predicting innovation adaptation...
  • Tracking technological changes that have the power to traverse age-old geopolitical boundaries, or...
  • Globalizing our education to the point where our students are just as likely to collaborate with someone half a world away as in the next dorm room.

The impact of digital communication is just beginning to be felt in the Western world. In fact, many educators suspect we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

New global wireless communication technologies are only now being deployed. Soon we'll see streaming video to the hand held computer and full voice and video communications with devices as small as our current cell phones.

WiderNet founder Cliff Missen and Nigerian educatorsThe impact of these changes on the political, economic, cultural, and private lives of the entire human race - connected or not - will be the critical issues of the next few decades.

Overcoming Information Poverty

Information poverty - an individual's or group's inability to access information that would otherwise inform their choices - has always played a role in the long history of human civilization, but never so much as in our current high-speed digital world.

On the other hand, new breakthroughs in digital communication technologies are poised to break down the digital divide that has been growing over the past couple of decades.

We could possibly see whole societies revolutionized by communication technologies that will transform their information and power structures seemingly overnight.

Already, it's estimated that three times as many people currently have access to email than ever had access to telephones. We've finally come upon a decentralized communication technology that promises to scale to virtually every economic class.

Building a Digital Bridge

At the most basic level, by offering technical assistance to people with poor digital communication means, we are building a digital bridge. Today we must focus on the bricks and mortar and the heavy lifting to build the bridge.

But, in years to come, we will be able to use the bridge to deliver courses, conduct mutually beneficial research, collaborate with our colleagues around the world at will, and provide our students with unmediated interactions with their peers from other cultures.

In concert with the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, we lead in the development of creative uses of digital communication technologies and to demonstrate to other academic institutions how such communication with the developing world can broaden teaching and research opportunities for all people.