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