Tag Archives: Grass Roots

The Internet:Marketing for the masses

An ICT evangelist

Many people take their internet connection for granted.  But one man has dedicated his life to promoting knowledge sharing through information and communications technology (ICT).

Since the early 1990s, Dr. Onno Purbo from Indonesia, has been telling people around the world that low-cost internet connection is possible in remote areas, especially wi-fi as an inexpensive technology.

Dissemination of practical know-how in setting up a wireless ISP, VOIP infrastructure, etc. has been the advocacy of this grass-roots ICT activist since the early days of the internet.

Purbo’s infectious enthusiasm of his mission had him invited to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in December 2003 where he gave a talk. He also made real-life demonstration using his own ICT equipment consisting of wireless access point, four-port internet telephony gateway, digital camera, webcam and a telephone handset.

His Mission

He ran Wi-Fi and VOIP simultaneously on the demo infrastructure at WSIS and convincingly showed how a functioning internet infrastructure can be built easily by a community using their own own money.  No world bank funding ; no IMF funding is necessary.

But he paid a handsome price for his being a “stubborn ICT maverick”  as described himself. A few hours after running his demo, he lost his knapsack  to a thief in the  conference. The knapsack contained all his equipment including his wallet and cell phone.

Of course, the point here is not that thieves are found everywhere.  Rather that we are impressed by Dr. Purbo’s enthusiasm, knowledge and dedication for his mission that he is willing to pay the price.

The Internet by 2015

It was then made known in the conference that one of the world’s objectives is to connect half of the world’s population by the year 2015.  As of 2006, already 16% of the world’s population have become internet users.  We don’t know however, on a country by country basis if their respective governments are on their way to achieving the goal of 50% internet connectivity by 2015.

Dr. Purbo is the author of nearly 1000 articles and close to 40 books; most are accesible on the net. Among these are tutorial files about implementing a community-based telecommunications infrastructure.

Internet marketing for the masses

Therefore, we can go a further step.  Given an inexpensive internet connection, apart from a being powerful tool for sharing knowledge, the internet is definitely a powerful tool for commerce.  But how can it be made with a bottom-up approach? A community-based internet marketing program wherein each one can contribute in building and developing a system not just for  the sake of profit but primarily for the community’s improvement?

Finally this brings us back to the first question in the first blog: how does a real beginner goes about internet marketing for the first time?   And perhaps the answer is the same whether an individual or an entire community does it.