Thursday, March 27, 2008

Keep them questions coming - Prashnottarang

This is the kind of stuff that makes me feel guilty...guilty of spending countless hours on the internet and not coming up such ingenious ideas for bridging the gap between the illiterate and the Internet. Prashnottarang or the Question Box is a very simple telephone intercom which requires no computer literacy (in fact, not even literacy). A user simply presses the green button, talks or asks a question, an Internet user (a volunteer) on the other end browses the web for an answer, and responds to the user of the box. This has started as a non-profit project in India (in two villages). These boxes are placed near a shop where people have easy access to it. Well, wont spoil the all about it here, Question Box. While you are at it, check out their Flickr page too.
Some ways I imagine the villagers would use it would be: to find out weather forecasts for the region, cricket scores, which politician has what agenda, and most of all, symptoms of diseases and other healthcare related information, etc etc. I am sure the list is infinite.
Mobile?: On the for-profit side, I thought I had heard of services where you can just call a service and get someone to find something out from the web. I have called my friends or my brother on numerous occasions to find out about an address on the web, or listings of movies in the area....i sure could have used a Question Box. Could there be a potential for a company like ChaCha (the search engine where a live quide chats with you) to have a version of their service accessible via a regular phone call. Those damn tiny qwerty buttons on my Blackberry don't make it fun to browse the web on the mini screen!

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