crossing the digital divide…with a little help from your friends

Posted on June 19, 2007


steampunk cyberpunkYour friends at Digital Divide, that is. BC Digital Divide is an organization that exists to get donated computers into the hands of those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the power of computing, because like me, Steve Jobs, and everyone else of brains and principles, they believe in the power of computers to democratize information and, through information, power.

Simply put:
They’re in the empowerment business, baby.

This blog post, for example, is being typed on a laptop which BC Digital Divide generously donated in part so that I could get around and make presentations and teach Blogging for Growth, which I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do. It’s hard to teach a blogging course by carving on stone tablets.
Naturally, if you would like some hardware from them, you must prove need first.

Word: You gotta be poor, not just cheap.

And you have to be willing to live without handholding, because they’re all about donating hardware, not walking you through the process of using it. They do keep a list of techies (such as my fine self) who are offering their services to BC DD at a discount, so that you can have access to tech help at a reasonable price. Still, if you’re new to computing it’s well worth your while to take one of those intro to computing courses that are offered at places like the Downtown EastSide Learning Exchange. That way you can hit the ground running. And what the hell, it’s also free. If you know a company, school, or individual with hardware to donate, pass along the BDCC info and help someone else to get their first computer; it’s like a bike for your mind.

Just in case that’s not enough for you, BCDD has a page of additional free or cost-reduced resources for you, right here.
Freecycle, mentioned there, is an awesome mailing list for people who have stuff to give away; next time you’re stuck with custody of an ex’s ugly floral sofa, think about putting it up on Freecycle. Problem solved.

Free or drastically cheap internet can be accessed through Vancouver Community Net, which provides dialup lines for $40 per year if you’re employed, nothing if you’re not and you’re poor. Dialup, FYI, is very low-speed and makes things like YouTubes a pain in the ass, as they take forever to load. On the other hand: FREE! Hard to beat that price. They also offer mailing lists, website hosting, and a ton of other services to community organizations and deserving individuals. Check out the list of services on their site.

With internet, hardware, tech support, and this blog as a pointer to additional resources, you’re well on the way to making the Interwebs your bitch.

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