Access and Diversity
REAL TIME TRANSCRIPT: Access and Diversity
Hong Kong IGF
11:00-12:30, Thursday 17 June 2010
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>> : Welcome back.
The first panel discussion of the day is about
access and diversity. May I now invite Mr John Fung,
director of Information Technology Resource Centre of
HKCSS to start the session and introduce the panel
speakers for us.
>> John Fung: Welcome back, everybody.
I’m John, the moderator.
Our theme for this session is access and diversity.
We are very lucky today to have four very
distinguished speakers on the panel, all with very
unique and yet different backgrounds, to share with us
their observations and experience in their work.
They have one thing in common in them and that is
they are all working towards, in their own way, to help
construct a more accessible participatory internet, with
content diversified enough to reflect the diverse
culture, languages and needs in the global village.
We are extremely happy and grateful to have them
As we have discussed before, all speakers, all
guests, can use Cantonese.
We will have an English transcript. If you need
simultaneous interpretation, you can get headsets from
>> John Fung: Without further ado, let me introduce our
first speaker, Mr Anthony Wong. He’s the president of
OLPC, Asian Pacific.
>> Anthony Wong: Good morning, everybody.
Thank you very much for me to have an opportunity to
speak to you this morning.
The subject of my presentation is on education.
The title of my presentation is Education for the
Actually, there are many different categories of
deprived in this world and what I’m addressing is the
most poorest children in this world.
First of all, I would like to draw you to some
statistics, that in this world, the opportunity for
education is not equal.
In fact, there are 2 billion children in the
developing world that are not receiving education at all
or receiving very limited types of education.
Actually, one in three in the developing world does
not complete the fifth grade.
This is causing a lot of problems in the world.
Individual and societal consequences is great and it is
the major reason for what we call the poverty spiral.
A lot of people are talking about how to help the
poor, how to lift them out of the poor poverty spiral,
but we believe education is the basic element to be able
to do that.
A lot of governments are concerned about this
particular scenario, this particular situation, but so
far, I have not been able to see any government to be
able to take positive, effective action to solve this
poverty spiral problem, about the root cause of
Definitely, standing still is not going to help.
We believe it is time to rethink how we go about
Actually, we did a quick survey that in developing
countries, the amount of money allocated to education is
less than US$20 per year per pupil.
This compares with what is being spent in the US, is
more than US$7,500 per pu til per year.
You can see that even if we double the spending or
redouble or even 10 times the spending in developing
countries on education, it’s not going to help the
A lot of people are talking about building more
schools, having more teachers, buying more books, more
equipment. We do not think that will be sufficient.
$20 is far too little a figure as a base to start.
We have been to many remote places, places where the
only way to get to is to walk for many hours or even
a couple of days.
In these places, even if there is a school, it is
just a simple cell shelter with little or no facilities
Most teachers there are perhaps just one grade above
those of the students and when you have situations like
this, books are rare and totally inadequate.
Most importantly, when you don’t have facilities and
even the teachers themselves are not good enough to
teach the students, for some basic education,
fundamentals, it will not help even if you build more of
these kind of schools or give them more such teachers.
For example, I have been to many schools in the
remote parts of China. The teacher does not know,
cannot speak English definitely and even Putonghua, they
are not very good.
How can they properly teach the students the correct
things to learn? Not to speak of learning about music,
art and other things.
Knowledge to the outside world, in most of these
places, are totally blocked, so they don’t know anything
about the outside world as well.
We, in OLPC, first maybe I just briefly introduce
what OLPC stands for. It’s a nonprofit international
organisation called One Laptop Per Child.
We are proposing a radical solution to this
particular problem of education for the deprived
This particular organisation actually started from
a group of professors and experts in MIT in the US.
This group of professionals were actually involved
very much in the invention of the internet and the use
of the internet.
They are aware of the power of the internet and the
power of IT.
So they come together more than 10 years ago and
proposed the concept that in this kind of very hard
conditions for learning, perhaps the best way is to use
technology, the best way is to use IT, the best way is
to use the power of the internet and that is how they
come up with this particular solution and this is what
I’m showing you here, right now, a very inexpensive,
small computer, laptop called the XO laptop.
They designed this computer, they started
a nonprofit organisation, so this is totally created and
manufactured at cost and definitely below cost, because
a lot of the inventions, there are no royalties, nobody
charge anything. They are all run by nonprofit and
What is the proposition? The proposition is that we
put all the things that a child needs to learn into this
small computer and distribute them to the remotest parts
of the world, the parts of the world where if OLPC does
not exist, the children will never, ever, in their life,
have access to a computer or to the internet. That is
the criteria to which we want to deliver this kind of
Because we are familiar with the situation, that
this is not a particularly traditional type of
schooling, so we did not believe the teachers will be
able to help a lot in teaching the students, we are
proposing a concept of constructive learning. That is,
we hope the children themselves will be able to learn by
using this device themselves.
Particularly, we want them to learn how to learn.
Then they will explore.
XO computers are designed by not just IT experts,
but also by a lot of education experts to allow children
to think about thinking in ways that are otherwise
impossible and using it as a window to the world.
A highly programmable tool for exploring and they
will be open to unlimited knowledge and their own
creative and problem solving potential.
In fact, that is our mission, that is to create
educational opportunities for the most poorest children,
by providing them, each child, with a rugged, low cost,
low power, connected laptop, with content, very
important, software designed for collaborative, joyful
and self-empowered learning. That is the OLPC mission.
You have the real thing here. This is the
Actually, this is not designed as a computer. We
would not treat it as a computer. We just treat it as
a device for the children to be able to use it to learn
and to explore knowledge.
It was never designed as a computer, as such.
Maybe just a little bit introduction of this toy
here. You can see for those of you who haven’t seen
this before, it is designed like a toy. Actually,
target age is 6 to 12 years old.
It is designed to be able to be used in the most
harsh conditions, so it is waterproof, dust proof and
drop proof. I have dropped this so many times, I’m not
going to do it again. Just throw it 1 metre and it
doesn’t break. It uses very little power, 0.2 to 2
volts. So a single charge on this computer can last
more than 20 hours, so the children can use it for
a whole day.
It has two display modes. It can be read in bright
sunlight, because a lot of these places you have to do
learning outside and this thing you can take outside and
you can still see the screen very clearly.
It has two rabbit ears here, which actually is
a WiFi antenna, so it has full WiFi capability and
because of the external antennas this WiFi capability is
at least three times better than any laptop you have
here in front of you.
The sensitivity, I mean.
The kids can use it actually in a mountain village
we have tried this and the WiFi can go as far as 1
This thing is also designed to be able to install
200 books in it, so it is an early E-book and each child
will have at least 200 books installed in it, so they
can use it and read, instead of having paper books
Of course, with a USB and also WiFi, you can
download many more new books, if you want to.
Most importantly is the content in it.
So we are focusing on, as I said, this is not
a computer, this is a learning tool. We don’t want the
children to learn computers. We want them to learn
things inside this device.
So we are not talking about computer literacy. We
are talking about learning, education. This is an
education project, not a computer project.
The young children don’t need to learn about IT,
don’t even have to tell them this is a computer. This
is a learning tool.
We believe the children learn best through doing
things, so that actually a lot of our experiments shown
to be successful in proving that point.
We put an emphasis on software tools for exploring
and expressing rather than instruction.
We engage children in constructing their own
personal interest and knowledge in providing tools for
sharing and critiquing these constructions will lead
them to become learners and teachers.
The interface, again, is designed for young children
learning and a graphical means, we have very little
text, most of the user interfaces in graphic form, so it
will be universal.
Because this is going to be distributed to many
different parts of the world with different languages.
Laptops will give the learners an opportunity that
they have never had before, such as a web browser, media
player, an E-book reader, as I showed you, that are
otherwise difficult or impossible for these kind of
children to be able to access.
They help them to build upon their active interest.
There are programmes in it for writing, much like
your Microsoft Word and composing, simulating,
expressing, constructing, designing, modelling,
imagining, creating, critiquing, debugging and most
importantly, this is unique among all the laptops and
different children, a few kids having their own laptops,
they can collaborate on the same programme, for example,
in drawing a picture, one kid on this side can draw part
of the picture and the other one can draw the other part
at the same time, so interface will allow that.
In fact, the WiFi antennas here also operate like
a mesh network, so even in the absence of an internet,
WiFi access, the computers themselves talk to each other
and can communicate with each other.
We have one experiment in African village where the
kids live in different parts of the village and when
they go home, the computers can talk to each other.
That becomes the sole communication device in that
When one laptop is connected to an internet access,
then this mesh network will bring the internet access to
all the computers in that wire mesh network, so it is in
fact a wireless lan network, so we just need one
connection to enable the whole village.
The laptop takes learners beyond instruction. If
you have a chance to explore our programmes, the
software, what we call activities, you will be able to
experience that every single programme here is designed
like a game and the children will play with that game,
but each programme will allow the children to learn
Because this is internet connectable, so we not only
allow them to learn things installed in the computer, we
also allow them to explore things outside the world, for
example, there is Wikipedia installed here, so they can
access Wiki. This is Wikipedia junior, so they can
access the Wikipedia.
Each school represents a learning hub.
One interesting design in here is the school server.
In each school, we install a school server, which is no
more than a regular PC, just a few thousand Hong Kong
dollars. The school server will be able to monitor all
the activities of all the XOs in that particular school
and even in the village.
The teachers can communicate with the students via
this school server and through the school server, we
will be able to monitor the activities of each and every
kid using the computer.
Of course, this way, because all the XOs can be
programmed to access the internet via the school server,
and via the school server only, so what they can see and
not see can be filtered and firewalls can be built and
this is very important, that we talk about maybe in
other sessions in this forum, that’s about protection of
children from undesirable things in the internet.
So we have considered this, this school server can
do what the school wants the children to read and not to
Very importantly is the supply of software and the
supply of contents.
If you buy a normal laptop, you have to install the
operating system, which cost you some money. You have
to upgrade it every now and then.
Every single software is a source of cost.
In the OLPC family, we employ free open source
software from beginning to end. So it’s Linux operating
system and every single software is on open source and
there are thousands of volunteers around the world
working every day to develop upgrades and new learning
software every day.
These are all available for downloading free of
So once this device is delivered to a particular
child in the remote areas, they will be supported by
these thousands of volunteers throughout the world.
Also content is being translated into the different
languages, the local languages, by the local volunteers.
That is why we are always asking for support for local
volunteers. So anybody interested, please talk to me,
if you want to be a volunteer.
Some examples of what we can do. This is playing
music. This becomes a full music learning tool. We
have actually so far there are four music programmes in
here. For the most remote districts, there are no
musical instruments, no teachers know music, how can the
kids learn music? Four programmes from understanding
music to becoming a composer. The children can
You can see there this screen, there is some, all
the musical instruments are simulated by this computer
in this programme.
Actually, we have seen some school bands being
developed using the XO. Each kid playing a different
This is a drawing. The kids can produce many
different kinds of computer drawing using the drawing
This is chat. The kids can chat to each other, like
MSN chat. You can see that.
Whether they have internet connection or not, these
computers themselves will connect themselves up
This is a lot of the games that children can try
using computer design. For example, we have E-toys and
E-toys is a very powerful drawing, multimedia drawing
tool and also we have scratch. Children can compose
their own multimedia. I don’t have time now, but if
anybody is interested, I can show you some of the
cartoons drawn by some of these 5 year olds or 10 years
olds. You can see the talents, even in those remotest
This is scratch. Again, a very powerful tool for
children to learn multimedia presentations.
This is some of the pictures that we we have taken
in some deployments. This is in Sichuan, the earthquake
in the stricken area. Right after the earthquake, we
delivered 1,000 laptops to this place for the children
to restart their learning, even in very poor
This is the school in the Ban Fong at that time.
This is another deployment we have in a mountainous
village in Butan. Again, another LDC.
Kids there, very happy with their XO laptop.
They took it outside to take photos, doing all kinds
This last picture, you can see me installing a WiFi
antenna in the headmaster’s house, which is outside the
school. This is the way we get internet into this kind
of very, very remote areas, using a very powerful WiFi
With just a normal, not very broadband connection.
Remember, when there is absolutely no internet
connection at all, the low bandwidth connection makes
a big difference compared with no connection.
So broadband makes a little bit of difference
compared with narrowband, but narrowband makes a huge
difference compared with no connection.
Providing the places even with narrowband
connections, and the kids can have access to knowledge
through the internet.
That is the important point.
With that, I end my presentation here. Some of the
websites, if you are interested, please come to see our
websites and contact us if you are interested to help
>> John Fung: Thank you, Anthony, for a very interesting
Our next speaker is Dr Michael Gurstein.
Dr Gurstein is a long time researcher on digital divide,
especially the telecentre movement.
He has travelled quite extensively and has been
acting as a consultant and advisor to NGOs and
He’s currently executive director of the Centre for
Community Informatics Research, Development and
>> Michael Gurstein: Thank you, John.
When John invited me, I was really delighted to be
able to come back to Hong Kong. Then I asked him what
he wanted me to talk about and he said he wanted me to
gather experience or present experience on the
telecentres globally that might be of interest here in
After talking with John and hearing presentations,
the first thing I wanted to say is that there is much
that the world can learn from Hong Kong in these areas.
I have titled my talk, which is, I have adapted the
talk from other talks that I have given elsewhere on
telecentres, but I have titled my talk Bridging the Last
Quintile. That is bridging the last 20 per cent.
I think that is very important and as an outsider,
I would like to perhaps reflect a bit on that.
In other parts of the world, in the developed
countries in any case, once a country reaches 60 to 75
per cent, they pretty well raise their hands in
a victory celebration and they turn their priorities to
In fact, in Canada, where I’m from, the most recent
information on internet use showed a slight decline in
internet use year on year.
That was passed, I would say, in the public media
and in the public policy sphere with a shrug. There
really was little attention. It was seen as a bit of
a curiosity, but it wasn’t seen as being something that
should become a focus for public policy attention.
It seems to me that Hong Kong, by focusing its
attention on bridging the last quintile, the last
20 per cent, is really showing I think remarkable
leadership in this area, because the challenge — the
first 60 or 75 per cent, I won’t say it’s easy, but once
the infrastructure is in place, the applications and
uses, the Facebooks, the eBays, the Amazons, are
sufficient to engage the attention and the interest and
the involvement of most of the socially included
The young who go to school, the adults who are
working, the seniors who have extensive family
connections and so on.
The first 65, 70 per cent in a developed country is
something that can almost — once the infrastructure is
there, can almost be taken for granted.
By it’s the last 20 per cent or the last, in the
telecommunications world, they talk about the difficulty
of the last mile.
I think here taking on the challenge of the last
social mile, the last quintile, I think is an extremely
important advance in thinking.
Because it’s the last 20 per cent who perhaps can
benefit the most from engagement with the internet and
the opportunities and the communications capabilities
and the information access capabilities that the
Because as I said, earlier, it’s the last
20 per cent who suffer the most from the disabilities
that come with social inclusion or who are socially
included, who are socially excluded, because of their
So by focusing on these, and making it a policy
priority, to develop strategies for including this
population, I think it’s demonstrating a wisdom,
a social wisdom and commitment that I think is something
that we outside of Hong Kong can learn something very
What I have decided to talk about is bridging the
last quintile. Perhaps I have some insights that may be
useful, but I’m extremely interested to learn from you
the strategies that you are undertaking to in fact make
I think this is fairly obvious to all of you, but
it’s perhaps worth going over again. Information and
Well, of course, they are the internet and they are
the various kinds of digital and digitally enabled
technologies, the whole range of the technologies
including the software, that allows for the kind of
communications, action at a distance, information
management, information retrieval, that has enabled,
that is acting as an enormous economic enabler of
transactions, of digital workflows, of managing
international supply chains that in fact have
transformed the way in which the economy works and the
way in which people work within the economy.
In the last figures I saw in the United States,
which I would be interested to know what the comparable
figures in Hong Kong, were that something like
80 per cent of all working population interfaces with
a screen at some point during their working life and
that’s a huge percentage of the entire working
But ICTs are also social enablers. The integration
and the use of something like the social software,
something like Facebook, and I think perhaps even more
importantly, something like skype, as an enabler of
communication, as a bridger of divides, as a linker of
families and friends, as a creator of virtual
connections and virtual organisations, I think is
transforming the way in which we can live our lives in
I talked this morning via skype with my 88 year old
mother, who is very proud that she has now installed
a skype video and she’s sitting there, she dresses up to
do her skype and so she’s talking to me, but more
importantly, she’s talking to her grandchildren, one of
whom is in Shanghai, another of whom is in New York, and
maintaining intensive social connections. When I was 30
or 40 years ago, when I was travelling as well, the
distance and the social cost and the financial cost of
distance was enormous.
If I was abroad, it was costing me tens of dollars,
occasionally hundreds of dollars, to communicate.
Now it’s costing nothing or cents a minute.
That’s bridging and integrating families, friends,
organisations, not for profits, as well as for profit
ICTs are also becoming a tremendous cultural
The role that ICTs are playing in supporting and
recreating in some cases, languages, speech, integrating
providing the opportunity for the recreation of cultural
groups, I was recently in Borneo in an extremely remote
part, and with some people who a generation ago were
They had two — they have just got the internet,
this last six months and they have two applications.
Anybody guess what the first two applications are that
The first one is Facebook. Why? Because they, as
a group, young people were taken together from a number
of different places, put together in a setting and they
learned to use the internet together and now they’re
disbursed back to their villages and they’re using the
internet for mutual support and Facebook is that
The second application is blogging.
Why blogging? Because their lands are being
encroached on by foresters and even though their
language does not have a formal written script, they are
using blogging as a way of communicating or attempting
to communicate with a larger world.
The third application is Youtube, because they’re
using that as a way further of communicating their
ICTs are this tremendous cultural and organisational
enabler and they’re also, as we know, personal enablers.
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for ICT and the
communication and the virtual friendship and virtual
communication that I’ve had over the years with John —
with a real friend. A virtually enabled real
friendship. Thank you, John. Much better.
ICTs are also instruments of transformation.
Economic transformation. The kind of economy that we
see today would not be possible without ICTs.
Organisational transformation. Certainly perhaps
this meeting might have been possible without ICTs, but
the Internet Governance Forum, which just took place,
which had representation from 20 countries, 25
countries, certainly would not have been possible
without information and communications technologies.
It’s also the basis for social transformation, for
providing the opportunities for multi-generational
communications, for managing relationships over
distance, for cultural transformation and for personal
The real challenge is to make all of these available
to all. If we are talking about — that’s, again, the
significance of the last 20 per cent, the last quintile,
is because the last 20 per cent are those who do not
have access to all of these opportunities for personal
enablement, for economic enablement, for cultural
enablement, for personal transformation, for cultural
transformation, for social transformation, and for
That’s the challenge.
What I do with community informatics and that’s what
we do. Our concern is with how to use information
technology to support people at the local level, at the
I guess we start from the principle that people live
in communities and perhaps the best way to begin that
process of transformation, especially amongst the
physically excluded, the geographically excluded or the
socially or economically excluded is by building on the
community processes that already exist.
What we do is we work with community based planning,
designing and implementing ICTs in an Information
Society, but looking at that from the bottom up, from
the basis of those who are living in their communities.
So we are concerned with moving beyond the ideas of
the digital divide, which is I think a notion that
probably shouldn’t exist — it’s too simple and it’s
misleading a notion, because it’s not just a digital
divide, often it’s a disability divide or it’s an
economic divide or it’s a cultural divide or
a linguistic divide and the digital divide is simply one
amongst a whole set of other divides.
The challenge is to deal with all of those divides,
if you want to achieve inclusion, digital inclusion or
other kinds of inclusion, and so we talk about effective
uses. That is how to achieve, how to ensure that those
who are otherwise excluded can find the kind of uses
that make sense to them that are of value to them, where
they are, and how they live, but that all of the
supports that are required to help them bridge all of
the other divides, not simply the access divide, but the
skill divide, the education divide, the literacy divide,
often the physical disability divide, that those kinds
of supports are all available to ensure that someone not
simply has access to uses, but also can make effective
use of the technology and make use of the technology in
To me, and I guess to the kind of people that I work
with, that’s the challenge.
Community informatics is concerned with what we call
I think many of you work in telecentres, but perhaps
telecentres by a different name. Telecentres are public
access points, places within a community or community
sites where people can come together to learn about and
use the information, information technology, to access
There’s a big discussion going on now, I guess, in
the kind of, amongst my colleagues and the people that
I work with, about whether or not in the age of mobile
telephones, whether you still need telecentres.
I have a bias because I work with telecentres, but
my feeling is that you do. That there are processes
that happen when people get together in a geographical
space, where people can meet face to face, where people
can do the kind of multiple activities and integrate
multiple sources of information and multiple media into
one activity, into one use, that isn’t at this point
possible in a mobile telephone environment or even the
most advanced mobile communications environment.
I think that, in some ways, that kind of facility,
the public facility, the community facility, where the
internet is one amongst a number of community resources
that are available, will, in the context of the socially
excluded, the context of the last quintile, will always
Because it’s there where people can achieve not
simply digital inclusion, but also the broader base of
social inclusion, which I think is the ultimate goal.
Telecentres, it’s relatively easy and I think that
probably in a city like Hong Kong, the technical
infrastructure is now in place.
I think that, from what I understand from John,
through the HK social services, that the social
infrastructure is brought into place.
That’s a very powerful and important element, the
provision of the technical literacy, the training, the
support structures for those who are otherwise either
physically unable to access the technology, or socially
or in terms of their skill level, unwilling or unable to
access the technology.
There is need for an organisational management
infrastructure, a framework within which a telecentre
can operate, that allows it to have the kind of
applications and uses that will be engaging to the last
20 per cent.
Integration of that into broader networks, for
mutual support, for responding to very specialised
I have just been doing some work in Malaysia,
thinking about how to respond to the needs of the
disabled in the context of information technology.
What’s clear there is that every telecentre can’t
have all of the assisted devices that might be required,
but that if you pool the requirements of multiple
telecentres, then they all can have those kinds of —
they can all have access to those kinds of assisted
In order to do this, you have to have this
overarching organisational and management
Then, of course, you need the applications and uses.
This is, I think, the interesting area, is by
thinking about in the context of what you’re doing here
in terms of the last quintile, the last 20 per cent, is
breaking that down into the various user groups and
identifying within those groups, the specific areas of
need, but more importantly, the specific areas of want,
of requirement within those.
What is it? What kind of applications will motivate
people who aren’t currently interested to become
involved in the — to become users of the internet.
Certainly I know, for my mother, it was access to
her grandchildren and that, for many seniors is a very
For others, it will be other areas. It may be
economic. It may be opportunities for employment and so
Community informatics, beginning from a base,
looking at the technology from the bottom up, has
learned a few lessons that might be of interest to
The bottom up community based strategies work best.
What that means is that engaging those who will be the
end users in defining and developing the specific
applications, probably works best in terms of the
long-term sustainability of those applications.
The global experiences that telecentres have
a problem and many, many agencies, many government
agencies, many large NGOs basically abandoned
telecentres. They have put the money in, you know, they
have found that they weren’t successful and they moved
on to something else.
The observation that I would make and I read a lot
of PhD theses on this, is that the problem isn’t in the
model, it isn’t in the operation, the problem is in the
model of implementation.
If the telecentre is put in from the outside, is
managed as a government operation, where the programming
is designed by someone in Geneva or New York or Nairobi
or Johannesburg and then put into at the local level,
then as soon as the funding ceases, is no longer
available, then the community in which this has been
placed, no longer has much interest, no longer has much
interest in the operation.
They have not had any ownership in its development,
in its design, in the identification of the application,
in its operation, and when the funding goes, like a lot
of these programmes, it disappears.
But in those areas, where the process has been one
of engaging the community, on a long-term basis, in
working with them, in giving the community the ownership
of the operation and the long-term management of the
operation, the long-term accountability for the
operation, that’s when these survive. They survive on
the — there is a series of horror stories, of
telecentres that were parachuted in at huge expense, but
where the operation didn’t fit in with the local
culture. The managers were brought in from the outside.
The operation didn’t accept local practices. They were
seen as being the vehicles of, the political vehicles of
Policy plays a key role. Again, I think that the
policy is articulated by the Hong Kong Government is
a very interesting one, which is to see the necessity of
bridging the last quintile and to identify the ways of
But the actual operation, the actual process of
implementation, is one that is probably best left to you
folks and not to someone in a government office.
I think research plays a significant role. I’m
a researcher, so I would say that.
Research plays a significant role by providing
a feedback mechanism, by providing a way for linking
what’s happening on the ground into the policy level
where the funding comes, by helping people on the ground
to understand what it is they’re doing, what it is that
they’re doing successfully, and what it is that isn’t
quite so successful.
It’s a way of gaining distance from what they do and
learning from practice.
Partnerships are essential and partnerships are
essential because no single group, no group has all of
the skills. No group has all of the knowledge. No
group is able to operate completely on its own.
So the bringing in of various skills and knowledge
bases and resources, at the local level, within
a context, a crucible of local management is very
Mostly because people like me say technology doesn’t
matter, but in fact the technology does matter. Making
sure the systems work. Making sure that it’s properly
maintained. Making sure that viruses are looked after.
Making sure that you’ve got proper communications
capability and I know John I’m sure does that extremely
well, but that’s not an unimportant task and something
that’s something that should be looked after.
Stakeholders in telecentres are the practitioners,
the policymakers and I think the researchrs.
First generation telecentres were concerned with
access, with familiarisation, with training and ad hoc
They were general purpose community places. Next
generation telecentres, which is I think where we are
now in areas where there is a renewed interest in
telecentres, have to do with their applications are
focused, which means that they are concerned with
specific kinds of end user requirements.
You will have a telecentre that’s focused on the
requirements of senior citizens and will be designed
physically, will have the software, will have the
application that’s concerned with senior citizens.
Another network may be concerned with people living
in low income housing. People with certain kinds of
physical disabilities. That’s important, because the
physical design, the software design, the programming,
by that I mean the agenda setting within the telecentre,
should be focused on supporting those particular
applications and engaging those particular individuals
and providing them with the outcomes that they find are
I’m just about done here.
Bridging the last quintile, the last 20 per cent.
I think that’s really what you’re doing here.
I really congratulate you for doing that, which is
recognising the need to define and develop quintile
specific applications and uses.
That is to recognise that the last 20 per cent is an
enormous challenge. It’s probably the much greater
challenge than the first 80 per cent.
And requires a very significant public commitment
I think in business, they always say it’s the first
80 per cent is the cheapest and easiest, but if you want
the last 20 per cent, that’s where it becomes more
expensive and that’s certainly the case here.
The delivery of the programme as close as possible
to the end user and with as much involvement of the end
user as possible.
Because if the end user knows — that it’s the end
user’s who know what they need, who know what will
motivate them, who know the kinds of objectives and
concerns that are significant.
The technical and physical infrastructure to support
the last quintile applications.
The sites, the accessability to specific software.
The social infrastructure to support the last quintile
applications, to support the technical literacy,
training and support specific to that particular group
within the last quintile.
The senior citizen, the low income individual, the
low literacy, persons with low literacy level, the
person with physical disability. So developing the
training and applications specific to those people.
Then the organisational and management
infrastructure to support last quintile applications.
I think that’s it and that’s me and thank you very
>> John Fung: In the interests of time, I need to introduce
our next speaker very quickly. Mr Clarence Tsang is
Deputy Director of Christian Action. He’s going to
speak a little bit about content generation for
>> Clarence Tsang: Thank you for the introduction and
I think I’m not going to make my presentation long, so
you can have an earlier lunch.
I’m not going to speak in English as my English is
not good enough. I’ll make it in Chinese, in Cantonese.
So grab your headphones if you need to do so and I’ll
give you one or two minutes.
I work in Christian Action. We have done research
on the minority groups, on their jobs.
I guess I have been in this charity for more than so
many years. I guess that’s why John invite me to this
presentation. Even the web of my organisation, we
haven’t enough, but I don’t think I will make it long
for my presentation today.
I have to raise two questions. The first one what
is multicultural content? The second one is
disadvantaged group. What is the need of these
Multicultural content means multi-language.
I guess, most of the web pages are bilingual. I have
captured some screenshots of many websites. This is the
PRC’s official website. You can see that I have
highlighted. You can see that the languages offered are
Chinese, Chinese traditional and Chinese simplified, but
these are the only versions.
But we have so many minority groups, say guys from
Tibet, people from Mongolia, they use many localised
dialects. So is this enough?
It’s very interesting.
This is pretty interesting.
It is US statistics, a federal website. I saw there
are 87 languages on the welcoming website page.
I’m just trying to click into one of the languages
displayed. Most of them are fully translated.
But then some of them are not fully translated.
The key things are there.
On top, furthermore, I look at the Chinese version,
Cantonese version, coming back to Hong Kong, what I say
the US federal websites are pretty good, pretty clear.
Looking at our website, there are only two
translations, like simplified and long version.
I wonder who is responsible for this.
You should take more notice of this.
Currently in Hong Kong, we think there are 200,000
Filipinos helpers, Indonesian helpers working in
Hong Kong and there are other Sri Lankan, Pakistani and
there are many other races who are currently working in
50,000 of minority groups, from Southeast Asian
Perhaps we look at this kind of population spread
mixed, well, what we have done is just not compared to
what the US has done.
We are looking into this topic generating
multicultural content for the disadvantaged group.
I think the government has to take the lead to take
some — to do more.
This slide, well, besides multi-languages, it is
important, but not sufficient.
Just that we have multi-languages and we have
English as the key language.
A lot of times, the translation or it doesn’t fit
the culture of the other races. What I’m saying is that
we have to consider the religious, educational and
political background to fully incorporate into our
society and so on.
I’ll give you another example.
This is our HSBC website.
I’m just giving a display on that.
What you can see is Chinese and English. Once you
enter, once you enter into HSBC site, you are loaded
with English version. It is totally a western style
I’m not saying that it’s no good. It is more for
expat and basically English speaking community.
The foreign worker and the minority are not — what
they are looking for.
I don’t think any of the bank in Hong Kong, they are
specifically designed for perhaps I say Indonesian
helper working in Hong Kong.
I don’t see such a bank in Hong Kong.
Look at another example, CLP, China Light & Power.
Hong Kong power electricity supplier.
They have Chinese and English translation only.
They have only two languages.
But without any support for minority groups in
If we look at the next page, we look at some
disadvantaged group, what they need on the internet.
What is exactly multicultural content on the
We are talking about disadvantaged group, what they
need, what they really need. The first one is
employment, welfare and educational needs.
A lot of these people new I’ll arrived in Hong Kong,
the immigrants from China, from other south eastern
Asia, even though they speak from perhaps from China,
even they speak Chinese, the language, but then the
cultural habits, the social environment are different.
There are a lot of local dialogues, local slogan,
local that they might not be able to understand.
The first thing is very needed is the employment.
Then their social security, how they can access the
government social security, the welfare and the other
thing is also educational. The education side.
Young children and then how they get into school,
I would say the minority groups in Hong Kong, they
always face these problems.
We have a lot of cases regarding this area. We have
many, many cases.
I think the Labour Department in Hong Kong, Social
Security Department in Hong Kong, they have to do more
in this area.
Secondly, utilities and facilities.
This is very vital, a daily necessity.
You take a ride on the MTR, you pay for your
I notice that the minority group they don’t go out
a lot. They stay in the house. Because they don’t know
how to take a bus. They don’t know where, how to get
from A to B.
Also, when they get on to the internet, they
couldn’t find any information in their language.
Thirdly, rights and responsibilities.
The foreign domestic worker, a lot of times they do
not know their rights.
Under the labour law, what they are protected, how
they are protected, what their rights, minority groups
in Hong Kong, they do not understand they’re citizens,
The language is a big barrier to this group of
The last thing is social network. Hong Kong, it is
easy for Hong Kong people to get involved in a social
forum. Looking at those minority groups in Hong Kong,
they do not have a public social forum to let them say
what they want to say, support each other and then for
For the last generation to pass information to the
newly arrived in Hong Kong.
I try to log-on to the web and search for this
information. There is none.
I think we should provide more information in this
I have some recommendations.
First, government to promote multi-language and
multicultural content on the internet.
The government should take the lead to do this.
For example, the Labour Department and the
Immigration Department, I wonder could they add more to
their website with their languages, with more languages.
The foreign domestic helpers, I don’t mean a full
translation, but at least there are — the key points on
their rights and responsibility. When they first landed
in Hong Kong, they have certain information, about the
basic laws and about their employment, at least some
basic information on the website.
Also, the next thing, NGO should do more in this
regard, but one thing is that we have limited resources,
We propose to set up more websites to give out
information on the internet about NGOs, giving
information to multicultural content on their website.
Thirdly, government sponsor the set up of public
forum for multi-races communication.
Besides government, we need more sponsors to sponsor
website for multi-languages.
I think that’s a good way. Also, it might be a good
social enterprise in the longer run.
Number 4, corps and public you titles should
consider CSR an element for generating multicultural
content for the disadvantaged group.
We are talking about a lot of CSR. We haven’t
exactly focused on this area. I suggest Hong Kong
Council for Social Services, they should take the lead.
I suggest to label the caring company, also this is one
of the criteria, whether they have multi-languages,
multicultural content on the website.
Fifth, there is another one. Not very complicated.
We just create an enquiry page on the web, so that they
can have question and answer on the website.
Then it’s easier to administer, because they can —
the organisation can outsource the translation to
outsider and then give the feedback on the website. So
it’s not too costly.
At least just an enquiry page.
I suggest this is not very costly, but very
efficient way to provide information, at least give them
a platform, give these people the platform to have Q and
A, to have the question and answers.
I think it’s not only — my idea is not, is only
just to tell you to spend, but then in the longer run,
I think it’s a good investment to incorporate minority
groups, incorporate them into the society, integrate
them into society, it is in the long run, it is a good
Secondly, to get different stakeholders involved.
Foreign domestic helper, minority groups, gather
their views together, so I think it is a good image for
the corporate, after all.
>> John Fung: The next speaker is Mr Chong Chan Yau.
Mr Chong is visually impaired and he is the President of
the Hong Kong Blind Union. He’s going to speak to us
about accessibility and give us an update.
>> Chong Chan Yau: Thank you. Thank you very much, because
of we are running late, so I’m going to be very brief to
make the point.
Web accessibility as defined by, as required by
blind persons, means that with assisted devices, we can
access web contents, fill in forms, even be able to
understand even captions from videos and so on.
I am representing today the Hong Kong Blind Union,
so I’m going to introduce a web accessibility campaign
we are going to launch.
Just to start with, IT provides a lot of
opportunities. It can also be a challenge. So it is
a double edged sword.
It depends on how we structure the technology and
make sure that the benefits outweigh the challenges.
I am using basically a device with a Braille display
and I can access the web with this display.
So I want to do a very short demonstration.
Bear with me.
What I’m touching with a finger is a Braille display
and I can also use a speech synthesiser to listen to
what the computer is displaying on the screen.
So I have gone up to gmail and this is my gmail.
I’m actually share some private emails with you.
This is an email I want to show you, because this is
a friend I’ll email. We had lunch last week. So I’m
Because I have read — just to save time, I have
read the email.
So I can send this email.
This is how we work. Accessibility.
It provides you with the tools that everybody else
is using and you can, you basically keep in touch with
people anywhere else.
For example, I missed the World Cup last night, so
I want to find out Spain versus — sorry, I made
a mistake. So I’ll try again.
Last night was Spain versus Switzerland.
I will search the web.
Immediately I know that Spain lost for some reason.
I don’t want to go into the details here, but
already the results is placed.
I will go into any of these search results and then
find out feature articles and so on and so forth.
But then the reason why the web is designed to work
with accessible devices is that there is an
international standards at W3C.organisation.
I can show you.
This is the web accessibility initiative of W3C.
Its mission is to design the web so that everybody
Web accessibility is not an additional add on. It
is regarded as part of what web should be.
Unfortunately, it’s not everybody’s knowledge, not
every web is accessible.
About 10 years ago, when worldwide web was promoted
widely in Hong Kong, the government of Hong Kong has
adopted a web accessibility policy.
So major public websites are complying with this
guideline, international guideline, and it actually
promotes the guideline itself.
We are now at Cyberport, so let’s see what the
Cyberport website is.
It has some problem.
Because I cannot hear the voice.
Let me check.
OK. Hong Kong Cyberport.
There are some problem with this website, because
I can read — for you, you see a number of links, but
I can only read R2, R3C2 and so on. Because the links,
the hypertext, the text of these links are not spelt out
in meaningful content, because maybe the web designer
when the web was constructed, they were not aware that
there will be assistive technology which wants to
converse, which wants to read these hyperlinks in this
The adjustment is very easy. There are many — at
the same time, there are websites which make a great
effort to comply with web accessibility.
I will show you one.
This is UBS’s website. It contains a web
accessibility statement, which I think is a model.
What UBS is telling its customers is that we care
for visually handicapped users and we design our web so
that we assist the accessibility technology and if there
are problems, please contact us.
This is UBS. This is not any NGO or welfare
That’s how web accessibility can be mainstreamed.
This is not new and UBS is not alone. They may not
be even the first.
It’s promoted as an international standard, so BBC,
all the websites are accessible.
Public organisations such as Olympics, FIFA, they
all comply with this standard.
The UN Convention on Disability requires that
services are accessible to all disabled persons.
So it is already signed by hundreds of nations and
it’s being implemented.
In Hong Kong, the Disability Discrimination
Ordinance also required providers to provide services to
all people unless they have unsurmountable problems and
web accessibility is not.
There are legal cases in US and Australia on the
basis of inaccessible websites.
The 2000 Olympic events, the website for the games,
has already been put to court, because of its
Seven banks and financial institutions in the US
were facing legal suits on inaccessible websites in the
They settled with the advocacy group before the
court actually had a chance to rule whether or not web
accessibility is part of what they call the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
These are the legal background for web
We want to, instead of showing the PowerPoint,
I think it’s not very necessary.
But let me tell you that in Hong Kong, apart from
the government, we found a lot of websites inaccessible.
It is not treated as a normal feature of a website.
So we recently have been glad to have been given
a fund from the Digital Solidarity Fund, to promote web
So we will be sample testing 30 public service
websites, I mean websites from companies and NGOs,
educational institutions and to highlight the importance
of web accessibilities.
We will also run training courses for blind people
to help them to make the best use of websites for their
daily life, for education, for employment purposes.
In conclusion, as I started off, web is a two edged
phenomenon. It enables people to overcome difficulties,
obstacles, but it can also create obstacles of its own.
It depends on how we structure it.
But we have a vision that accessible websites is
going to be a leveller, bridging digital gaps. It will
enable blind persons or disabled persons to find
employment on the web, to find friends on the web, to
study on the web and to also display their potentials,
through the web.
So thank you very much.
>> John Fung: Thank you, just in case you didn’t know,
Mr Chong, we have sign language transcription as well at
the same time while you talk.
Now the floor is yours, ladies and gentlemen.
I welcome questions and comments and anything you
want to say before you speak, please identify yourself
for transcription purposes.
We also have people monitoring the on-line chat room
in case they have questions, you can pass it to me, too.
>> : Thank you. Just one quick question is about — my name
is Ken from the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.
I think many years ago, when I was actually teaching
people how to build accessible website, at that time,
what you call the screen reader that Mr Chong is using
is only in English version.
Now it seems that the screen reader now improved.
I hear it is actually in Cantonese, isn’t it?
By that time, in US, the section 508 already
established. It means that for public website, it is
legally required to have accessibility features built-in
Do you think in Hong Kong, we need some sort of
guidelines or regulations in place?
>> Chong Chan Yau: Your question is whether or not Hong Kong
needs guideline for — I think we need that. We
actually have a guideline. The government is promoting
web accessibility guideline from the worldwide web
consortium. I have shown that to you.
Second, we believe that it falls within the
disability discrimination law in Hong Kong.
Third, I think we need more promotion at different
sectors, like universities, schools, service
organisations, commercial organisations and so on and so
I think the guideline is not an issue. The issue is
public education and the implementation of the law.
>> : One follow-up question. When we try to build an
accessibility website, to me, it’s very difficult,
because first I don’t have the screen reader with me.
I download the trial version and it is really difficult
As a web administrator, I would like to know if it
is actually OK if we build just a text based website, it
is good enough for you to read.
>> Chong Chan Yau: There is no need to build a text only
mode, because the assisted technology can now handle
text in a sort of full mode.
For web designer, after reading the guideline, they
are still not sure, then the users test is the best
So contact the Hong Kong Blind Union, then we’ll
>> John Fung: We are setting up a social enterprise to help
you with that.
>> Chong Chan Yau: We will first of all provide you with
some user feedback and in time, if there is such a great
demand, we might think about John Fung’s idea of setting
up a social enterprise.
>> : My name is Mimi Ho and I’m working as an IT consultant
in Hong Kong.
I have a question about the on-line PC, OLPC. What
kind of benefits do you see in any statistics like John
Galligan from Microsoft citing this morning like certain
increase in percentage GDP that the technology is
bringing or specific cases in Malaysia for a certain
What kind of benefits that you can cite, whether it
is social, economic or cultural that this innovative
technology is bringing after it has been deployed in the
disadvantaged sectors in Asia.
>> Anthony Wong: First of all, it’s not on-line PC, it’s one
laptop per child.
This is a very good question. A lot of people ask
This project has only been launched for a little bit
over two years. The PCs have only been mass produced in
So far, we have distributed about 1.5 million of
these laptops to various parts of the remotest
districts. This is far from satisfactory.
Out of 2 billion users, so this is still a challenge
Definitely, the early feedback is that in these
areas, where education is nearly impossible, the
availability of this device greatly helps the
development of learning, of knowledge, and actual access
to the outside world, through the device.
Some people started to study, have started to study
the effects, the socioeconomic implications, but to come
up with a PhD thesis later on is something else, but we
actually noticed a lot of phenomenas in those villages.
For example, the school attendance rates in some of
these areas significantly increased by many, many fold.
A lot of the parents previously would not allow the
children to go to school, because they want them to stay
at home to help them farming and do something else. But
now, having known that they can have access to education
in a proper manner, they have a PC to work, they send
the children, even if they have to work two or three
hours a day to go to school, they still do that.
A lot of communications between school children and
teachers have started to take place.
I believe maybe in a few years time, we will be able
to see the actual statistical results coming up.
But at the moment, we believe this is satisfying
a big gap in the digital divide, where you have nothing
compared with you starting to have something that is
starting to work.
Actually, a few countries have embraced this project
in a countrywide manner. For example, Uruguay, the
Uruguay government have decided that each and every one
of the children will have a laptop like this.
I’m not going to promote the sale of this particular
hardware, because we lose money every one of them when
we sell. It’s the concept that we are selling, that we
need technology to overcome this difficult situation of
education for the deprived.
>> John Fung: In the interests of time, I can take only one
>> : I’m Alex from Internet Professional Association.
My question is I want to ask Michael about
telecentres. As John told me about the telecentres
before, it’s very successful in Canada. We have
a project with HKCSS and Cyberport for the DCCA. You
may hear about that.
Do you know the difference between what sort of
phase we can go forward to do a step in telecentre in
You haven’t know about the DCCA project before in
>> John Fung: It’s like telecentre …
>> : Because we want to know anything we can go forward to
make it better than that for Hong Kong society.
>> Michael Gurstein: So you’re looking for advice on
>> : What sort of things we can go forward, go forward to do
>> Michael Gurstein: To do what?
>> : Telecentre.
>> Michael Gurstein: You are —
>> : What are the next steps?
>> Michael Gurstein: The next steps for —
>> : You mention about the application and something like
>> Michael Gurstein: Yeah. I guess the experience in Canada
has been the telecentres have been most successful in
rural areas, so the experience doesn’t translate that
directly into Hong Kong.
>> : Actually, why I have this question is not only for
Hong Kong, maybe we can promote this idea to Mainland
China, especially for rural areas in China.
>> Michael Gurstein: OK, if that’s the case, I guess the
first basis of success is probably developing local
partnerships. That is the strategy of using public
funds as a trigger rather than as a full investment.
I think where the Canadian experience has been most
successful is where the relatively small amounts of
funds have tapped into local, often non-financial, but
voluntary resources. It’s to link into communities that
are already look — they’re looking for some way of
moving into another stage of development.
The link with the telecentre becomes a focal point
for a whole range of activities and development
processes at the local level.
The telecentre is really a trigger. It’s not an end
in itself. It’s a way of opening up a whole range of
Where the telecentres have been most successful is
where the initial partnership funding partnership has
been with a relatively active local organisation that
has fairly extensive networks, is fairly active at the
Where the resources that are provided are not
provided, are provided in an iterative way.
So that as there is a development or as there is an
innovation or an idea for an innovation at the local
level, then additional funding comes in to facilitate
The more flexible the response on the part of
government, the more flexible and responsive the
government can be and it’s very difficult for
governments to be flexible and responsive.
But the more flexible and responsive they can be,
the more they’re able to build on the community
processes and the community resources.
Because the real experience is that if government
has to pay for at civil service rates or at professional
rates, all of the services that go into local access and
local telecentres, it really isn’t possible and isn’t
What it needs to do is to identify ways and provide
incentives at the local level to draw out those
resources and to facilitate at the local level the
identification of local uses and applications that make
sense at the local level and then can become owned by
the local community and that then can become sustainable
in the longer term.
The real issue for telecentres in the longer term is
Generally, it’s not financial sustainability.
Because no agency is likely to provide continuing
funding, at least not in the modern age.
No government, no NGO wants to provide continuing
funding for an activity that’s an open-ended activity.
What has to happen is the telecentre has to find
ways of becoming socially sustainable at the local
level, which means that it has to find ways of revenue
sources that are meaningful at the local level. That
will vary from community to community. It has to find
ways of engaging with volunteers at the local level and
voluntary skills at the local level, because the range
of skills that will make a local telecentre successful
are quite broad.
They will be available locally, but very often there
won’t be the funds to pay for them on a professional
basis, so engaging them on a voluntary basis, as
a community, as a community service, is part of the
I guess it’s easy to give answers at the macro
level, but what has to happen is that the process of the
development of the telecentre has to be very reflective
of local conditions, of local opportunities, local
resources, local skills, the local economic base and so
I guess the message that I would convey is the more
flexibility that can be built in at the funding end, at
the government end, flexibility in terms of
administration, management, requirements, auditing, the
more likely it will be to be successful at the local
Just one example. The government of Canada has
just, in its current funding round in this area, has
said that all telecentres have to be audited or they
have to be capable of providing some kind of audited
statement or the managing organisation has to be
Basically, that would have put the entire telecentre
networks in Canada out of business, because they can’t
afford the cost of doing professional audits.
So there’s a huge cry from the telecentres basically
saying, you can’t do this to us and so the government
was able, was willing to be flexible and change that
from a fully audited statement to assigned commitment
that the books that were presented from bookkeepers were
in fact valid and were capable of being audited if
anybody did that.
The flexibility — the inflexibility of the
government in insisting on that and then the flexibility
of being able to respond to that was really the lesson
to be learned.
>> John Fung: Thank you, I have heard the key word,
flexibility and sustainability.
May I now call upon our chairperson of the local
host, organising committee, Mr Stephen Lau, to give some
>> Stephen Lau: In view of time, just a couple of very quick
In the last two days, we had a regional forum, where
regional experts talk about regional issues fairly much
Our conference for these two days for the community
is mainly educational, awareness, instilling awareness.
I think our panellists have done a really good job.
We had two visually demonstrated, demonstrable
presentations, in particular one from One Laptop Per
Child, as well as a viable presentation from a person
who is visibly handicapped.
I think it does serve the purpose of this kind of
Just a couple of quick words. I’m really in sync or
echo what Michael was talking about the last mile, the
last 20 per cent is what we should focus upon, in terms
of advancing the interests of the community, interaction
through the internet.
This last 20 per cent was pointed out from our
friend from Christian Action. Not just talking about
economically poor, but also in terms of the racial
minority, which actually a lot of that should be covered
and should be taken care of as as well.
One final point, in all the presentations, and if I
can borrow from our friend from Christian Action, the
final bullet is multi-stakeholders discussion,
interaction and action.
That’s what the whole IGF is all about. 360, all
the stakeholders get together, discuss, interact and
then have some collaborative action.
>> John Fung: My final duty is to present souvenirs to our
distinguished speakers. To make our action meaningful,
the local organising committee has taken the liberty to
have the souvenir money donated in their names to the
Digital Solidarity Fund, which is set up to make the
internet more accessible and diverse.
May I now call upon Stephen to present at least the
receipts to them.
One final housekeeping announcement. Our District
Cyber Centre Alliance has a mobile laptop library. It’s
a bus. It’s now parked at the entrance of this
building, where you came up from. If you have time,
after lunch, please go and have a look. It’s worth
seeing and you can actually use the laptop there, too.
>> : Now it’s the lunchtime. Lunch is served for all
Please proceed towards my left-hand side outside the
venue. There is simultaneous interpretation from
Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Get a headset from the
We will be back at 2:45.