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Please Note: I've finished the Watson portion of the trip, so much of this page is out of date. Use the navigation links at the top of the page to get to (slightly) more recent content. Thanks :)

Welcome to This website contains information related to my research into the "digital divide." I am investigating cultural differences in the use of information technology, with an eye toward designing locally-relevant technology. The study will last from August 2003 to August 2004 and will involve five countries: Cape Verde, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and China. It is supported by a grant from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. If you're new to the site, this page provides a brief overview of the objectives and logistics of the project.

Note: If you want to look at work I've done, head to the projects section of this website; my thoughts and travelog are kept in the journals section.

some maps
May 25, 2004
Here's a quick sketch of where I've been and where I'm going - click on the small images for larger versions. The original maps were taken from and the cia factbook.

cape verde

south africa

south america


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annotated bibliography
April 6, 2004
In the process of cleaning out my hard drive, I came across this annotated bibliography that I compiled last year. The following is an excerpt from the introduction, you can download the entire pdf file here.

In this annotated bibliography I review some of the works that analyze the flip-side of digital globalization. Starting from the question, "What are the detrimental effects of spreading information technologies?" I have tried to find authors who attempt to deflate some of the optimism surrounding the information revolution. This bibliography is amazingly incomplete, and only scratches the surface of most arguments; nonetheless, it serves as a broad survey of the types of arguments that are being made. The hope is to provide a quick overview of some of the criticisms offered from a wide range of disciplines, from the formulaic analysis of the economic report to Husserl's philosophical discourses.

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fuzzy math
April 1, 2004
According to this article from the WEF, Cape Verde is one of Sub-Saharan Africa's "Leading Countries in [Internet and Communication Technology] Growth and Penetration". The country has the region's third highest personal computer penetration rate - eight percent. Wonderful!

The thing is, when I was in Cape Verde, I didn't see a single household that had a functioning personal computer. One family had a perpetually-frozen PC running windows 3.1, another had a computer with a fried power source... and that was it. There are maybe twenty or thirty internet café's in the entire country, and public computing facilities are all but nonexistent.

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the big issue
March 31, 2004
The Cape Town wing of The Big Issue just published one of my articles in their April edition. Here's the leader...

Many are the prophets of the Information Age. They preach the wonders of technology, of "information at your fingertips." Soon, we are told, the Internet will usher in a new era of global connectivity and human understanding. Soon, computers will cure our diseases and do our dishes. But 'soon' means different things in different countries.

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digital doorway
December 29, 2003
The children in the rural Cwili settlement of eastern South Africa have a new toy. It is a big blue metal box, and it juts out of one of the community center's brick walls. The box is safe to climb on, is completely storm- and tamper-proof, and has a speaker that plays music from time to time. What is more, the box houses a small computer and the settlement's only live internet connection.

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portuguese teaching materials
December 19, 2003
Download doc / pdf

Português: Para os Monitores da informática que tem alunos que falam português, esses materiais o ajudam organizar e ministrar as suas aulas. Os ficheiros incluem um guia para organizar liçöes, exercícios e exames, uma lista de vocabulário para traduzir entre inglês e português, e um certificado para dar aos alunos que concluírem o curso. Tudo foi realizado por Amy Thekdi quando ela era voluntário do Corpo da Paz em Cabo Verde. Todos os materiais tem um versão em portuguesa e outra inglesa. Estão disponíveis em formato de Word .doc ou Acrobat .pdf; ambos estão comprimidos. Pode utilizar o programa gratuito WinZip para extrair os ficheiros. É um recurso livre que possa distribuir e copiar a vontade. Para o nosso bem comunica-nos o quanto esse programa lhe serve e envia-nos sugestöes para
passíveis melhoramentos.

English: For those educators teaching computer classes in Portuguese, the following teaching materials will help organize and administer a basic 70-hour course. The available files include lesson plans, tests and exercises, as well as a Portuguese-English vocabulary list and sample graduation certificate. All files are written in both Portuguese and English. They can be downloaded in Word .doc format or in Acrobat .pdf format; both are compressed into .zip archives. All materials are being made available on this website in the hopes that it will be of use to educators in Cape Verde and other lusophone nations. They may be used and distribute free of charge; however, please let us know if and how you are using it!

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portuguese computer manual
December 18, 2003
Download doc / pdf

Português: The Cool Book é um livro para alunos de informática. Escrito em português, The Cool Book ensina as noçöes básicas dos computadores, com diagramas e liçöes sobre a história de computação, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Windows 98, e Iternet e Email. É um trabalho realizado por Amy Thekdi e Patrick Coonon, dois voluntários do Corpo do Paz em Cabo Verde. Agora, está disponível nessa website para ser mais uma ferramenta de apoio aos formadores da informática. &eacyte; um recurso livre que pode distribuir e copiar a vontade - só pedimos que avisam-nos o quanto este material está a lhe servir bem coma sugestöes para possíveis melhoramento.

The Cool Book está disponível como documento de Word .doc ou como Acrobat .pdf . Ambos estão comprimidos. Pode-se utilizar o programa gratuito WinZip para extrair os ficheiros. Ao fim desta página há a introdução oficial do livro:

English: The Cool Book is a 108-page computer manual, written in Portuguese, that teaches students basic computer skills. It was written by Ami Thekdi, with assistance from Patrick Coonan, while they were volunteering with the Peace Corps mission in Cape Verde. The Cool Book is being made available on this website in the hopes that it will be of use to educators in Cape Verde and other lusophone nations. It may be used and distribute free of charge; however, please let us know if and how you are using it!

Major topics covered include: The history of computers, Computing basics, Microsft Word, Microsoft Excel, Windows 98, and Internet and e-mail. The Cool Book can be downloaded in Word .doc format or in Acrobat .pdf format. Both versions are compressed - use the freely available WinZip or a similar such program to extract the .doc or .pdf files. The official introduction in English and Portuguese is included below:

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OneWorld TV documentary
December 2, 2003
Wizzy Digital Courier provides offline Internet to African schools. Using a camera provided by, I spent the past few days making a short video documentary of the project. If you have RealPlayer installed, you can view the documentary (a series of five 90-second clips), at


More information on the initiative can be found in the this article, or at the Wizzy Digital Courier website. The trip to Khayelitsha is described in my journal entry site b.

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wizzy digital courier
December 1, 2003
KwaZibonele Primary School struggles to pay its monthly electricity bill. There is no telephone line, no wireless network, and no satellite uplink. Internet access, it would seem, is impossible. Yet, each of KwaZibonele's 1050 students has a private email account and the opportunity to surf his or her favorite websites.

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September 19, 2003
There are a very large number of online resources available to those working in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development. The following annotated list of websites introduces some of the most informative and well-maintained of these resources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive collection of links; for such lists refer to these compendiums. Please email me if any of the links are broken, or if you think I have omitted an important resource.

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premature reflections
August 20, 2003
what is the point of my watson? remember the coke bottle that fell from the sky in "the gods must be crazy"? well, that's what i expected to find. except that this time, computers would be falling, and they would be crushing totem poles and other very symbolic objects. i would use the watson, i thought, to seek out that sagacious monk on nigh precipice. this man would open his heart to me, and wistfully shake his head as he mourned the loss of traditional culture. down in the prairie, silicon valley crusaders would be hurtling mice through monastery windows.

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Posted by senorjosh at 04:17 PM | Comments (6)
August 10, 2003
When this page reaches maturity, it will contain information primarily related to the state of information and communications technology in Cape Verde. For now, it is just a collection of links, but real content will be posted soon. Please email me if you have suggestions. You can also read more about the project.

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August 8, 2003
After months of haggling with travel agents and airlines, I have the majority of my tickets set in stone. The itinerary is:

Aug 12-16 Portugal
Aug 17-Oct 4Cape Verde
Oct 6-Dec 3South Africa
Dec 3-Feb 20Argentina
Feb 21-March 3Brazil
March 4-April 27 Costa Rica
April 28-August 11      China

Click the green button below for an animation

Cape Verde    South Africa    Argentina    Costa Rica    China   

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Mission Statement
After graduating from Wesleyan University, I was given a research fellowship by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation to study the global digital divide. The fellowship will allow me to visit five countries over the course of the year: Cape Verde, South Africa, Argentina, Costa Rica and China. In each country, I will be studying the ways in which organizations and individuals are using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to improve peoples' lives.

About the fellowship program (taken from their website)

The Watson fellowship was established in 1968 to give college graduates of unusual promise the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad following their graduation. The program provides Fellows an opportunity for a focused and disciplined year of their own devising--a period in which they can have some surcease from the lockstep of prescribed educational and career patterns in order to explore with thoroughness a particular interest... continue reading... (pdf)

My fellowship project: "Outreach or Evangelism?"

The subject of my project is the digital divide - the disparity in access to Information and Communications Technology. The 'information revolution' has produced powerful and useful tools, but billions of people around the world have yet to benefit from these new technologies. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that not everyone will find ICT useful in the same ways. Cultural and societal differences affect the way we interact with technology, just as they affect the way we interact with one another.

Over the course of the year, I will visit many organizations and initiatives using ICT to help people. Some of these organizations simply provide equipment and training; others have developed much more creative solutions. The implementation itself is not as important as the fact that organization is meeting the needs of the people it intends to benefit - that the technology is adapted to the people, rather than the other way around.

Throughout the year, I will be writing articles to draw attention to those initiatives that have the most effective approaches to ICT for development. When appropriate, I will help these initiatives in achieving their mission. At the end of the year, I will prepare and present a comparative study of the situation in the five countries.


  • To learn about the broader implications of the digital divide from those organizations actively working to close it.
  • To assist organizations when possible, in whatever capacity I can be of the most use.
  • To promote awareness of the issues surrounding the digital divide and social inclusion via articles and briefs.

  • About this website

    I will periodically post articles, links, and information relating to my research on the main page of this website (( My original project proposal and personal statement, both written in November 2002, are still available, though they are now considerably out of date. The old mission statement, written in August 2003, is included below. Information pertaining to past professional activities (resume, publications, etc.) is available via the projects section. Lastly, a more personal account of my travels and experiences can be found under journals.
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    watson proposal
    July 25, 2003
    submitted to the Watson Foundation as part of the fellowship application
    integrating technology into unexposed communities
    China, South Africa, Cape Verde, Argentina, Costa Rica
    With my Watson Fellowship, I will investigate the impact that the Internet and computers are having on technologically underdeveloped communities around the world. Over the course of the year I hope to begin to understand, on a broad level, the way that technology affects societies -- for better and for worse. I will focus on programs that give computers and training to communities with little previous exposure to such technology. The goal of these "digital divide initiatives" is to reduce the technology gap; these programs deal with the interface between technology and society in a very raw and accessible form. The majority of my year will be spent in small communities where initiatives are already underway; in such places I hope to learn the specific needs that computer technology is and should be addressing. I will balance this local perspective by interviewing policy-makers and program architects; from these people I will learn about the broader issues and implication of each country's digital divide.

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    watson personal statement
    July 24, 2003
    submitted to the Watson Foundation as part of the fellowship application
    integrating technology into unexposed communities
    China, South Africa, Cape Verde, Argentina, Costa Rica
    After my sophomore year in college, I took a year of non-academic leave and spent five months exploring Brazil, covering ten thousand kilometers by bus and by boat. I exulted in the pulsating energy of the Bahian Carnival and stood mesmerized by Iguaçu's thunderous waterfalls. For a month I lived in the heart of the Amazon basin and became close friends with Antonio Gomez, a Coboclo Indian guide three years older than me. Twice Antonio let me accompany him on week-long canoe excursions into the jungle. I would quietly listen as he described the wildlife and scenery to the two or three paying customers, and the two of us would sit up late at night playing dominoes and telling stories. He guided me through the surreal beauty of the rainforest and in return I took photographs which he later used to promote his business. Antonio is a sincere, knowledgeable guide, fluent in English and completely in tune with the subtleties of the forest. Unfortunately, his livelihood depends upon the Lonely Planet guidebook. Lonely Planet Brazil includes four pages on Amazon tours, and in the 1998 edition only five of the forty to fifty guides' names were included. Antonio, who had only been working as a guide for a few years, was not listed. The five lucky guides prosper and eventually contract out to the unlisted guides, who eat rice and try to convince tourists to recommend them to Lonely Planet. If Antonio's name doesn't appear in the next edition he says he'll leave the jungle because he's "sick of indentured servitude."

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