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Taiwan: Bridging Digital Divide with Puncar

While Taiwan is well developed and people enjoy relative equal opportunities compared with other regions around the world, the digital divide between urban and rural area is still wide. Several projects are ongoing in the island with an attempt to reverse the trend. Project in Recycling and Transferring Used Computers [zh] (二手電腦回收轉贈計畫), founded and executed by Environment Protection Administration (行政院環保署), for example, collects, repairs and sends used computers to remote areas and schools. Digital Community (數位好厝邊), established by Chunghwa Telecom Foundation (中華電信基金會), is also introducing digital learning resources to deprived communities.

It is, of course, insufficient to have computers and internet access as people need basic skills in using technology. To help people in remote villages and tribes learn and understand internet tools and applications, such as blogs, Twitter, Google Maps, Facebook, etc., Association of Digital Culture Taiwan (ADCT) [zh] (台灣數位文化協會) starts a new project named “Puncar” (胖卡) [zh].

This 10-year-old second-hand car, although can only ride 80-90 kilometers per hour, is well equipped with cameras, computers, portable solar panels, and so on. In May 2008, volunteers have spent three weekends organizing training courses in five distant villages and tribes in southern and eastern Taiwan.


Participants in different age groups gather in the community center for the event.

One local participant A-shan (阿珊) records the event in her blog [zh]:

徐兄在台上跟大家解釋著部落格是什麼…怎麼弄…又如何使用。
[…]
伯伯轉動著滑鼠…重覆著剛才課程內容,讓自己進步每一分鐘。

Tim (CEO of ADCT), standing on stage, introduces and explains what blog is, how to use it and what can be done.
[…]
Participants move their mouses, repeat what are taught, and try to improve step by step.

Philsu(阿寬), joined the tour in the second week, reflects on his experience [zh] with Puncar:

在跟小朋友互動的舉手投足、言語交流間,
體會了好多好多事情。
那是一種內在性的衝擊,撞擊著自己習慣性的思考,
進而延伸出好多的問題跟反思。
哪怕只是短短數小時的相處,
哪怕我們只是將簡單的網路地圖&部落格使用方法帶給你們,
但我似乎獲得了更多的東西。

I have learned so many things through interactions with these children. The experience has affected my old habits and thoughts, followed by many questions and reflections. In fact we only spent a few hours with them and taught them how to use online maps and blogs, but it turned out that I have learned more from them.

Qweaz (陳力), driver and photographer of Puncar project, offers a complete photo record in his Flickr album.


Tim Shyu (徐挺耀), CEO of ADCT, says [zh] in the Puncar blog:

部落格行動車將集結優秀及熱情的師資人才,設計活潑實用的網路教學課程,以實際走 訪的方式,運用該社區已有的硬體設備,協助解決「軟體」上的不足。並進一步發掘各偏遠地區的經濟特色,給予資訊科技方面適合的建議與支援的可能。

Puncar will recruit more members with passion and skills, and design more interesting and practical internet learning programs. We visit different villages, make use of existing facilities, and help solve the problem of skill insufficiency. Through the tour, Puncar will look into the economic characters in these rural areas and provide suitable IT advices and supports.

Puncar project will last for at least three years. Carrying on with its experiences in May, Puncar will be on the road again in July. For further details, please contact ADCT through adct DOT npo AT gmail DOT com .

All pictures are used under Creative Commons license

3 comments

  • What a great project! Congratulations! I think that providing the tools for digital literacy is not enough. Too many internet users are using it as a medium for consumption rather than participation and creation. In doing Internet literacy campaigns like this one you are engaging participants in the tools for citizen media.

  • […] an experience he encountered last week, when he went to a country village in southern Taiwan with Project Puncar. He stood at the blackboard, writing an URL for students to copy and type themselves. After he […]

  • […] Summarization of the “Puncar Action!” project can be read at GVO. French version is also […]

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