What A Web Connection Can't Fix

Kentaro Toyama explains the limits of telecenters:

[S]tories have sparked high hopes for telecenters: distance education will make every child a scholar; telemedicine can cure dysfunctional rural health-care systems; citizens will offer each other services locally and directly, bypassing corrupt government officials. ...

What do people want to do with the technology they have access to? Those of us who have worked in interventionist ICT4D [Information and Communication Technologies for Development] have often been surprised to find that poor people don’t rush to gain more education, learn about health practices, or upgrade vocational skills. Instead, they seem to use technology primarily for entertainment. Telecenter surveys find that when a village has ready access to a PCconnected to the Internet or otherwisethe dominant use is by young men playing games, watching movies, or consuming adult content.