A new report on free and proprietary software in public computer labs in Africa is out from the good folks at Skip down to the "Key ground-level findings" for the buzzword-laden summary.

From my experience in Namibia, I think their findings are mostly accurate. Free software has historically worked well only in well-planned, well-supported installations. You can always find random people to administer an isolated installation of windows 98 boxes; linux expertise is much harder to come by. And it is unfortunately true that most computer labs are not sustainable. Do-gooders from $RICH_COUNTRY drop 20 computers in a room, say "go", and then wonder why it doesn't exist two years later.

On the other hand, if well done, free software can be a liberating force in the developing world. Namibia was lucky to have, a home-grown organization that focused as much on the human side of computing as the actual hardware.

Well, I'm babbling now. If you didn't catch it before, check out their rad comic book about their work, even if they did steal their name from another project :-)

One response

  1. Firefox says:

    Report On Computerisation

    Good post on computerization in Namibia, including the trials and tribulations of free software....

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