What is community computing model?

Community computing is an empowerment initiative owned by the local community to bridge the widening digital divide using free software.

Information Technology provides access to the world knowledge at our finger tips. Bangalore is becoming world IT hub. MNC's opening centers in Bangalore. Infrastructure is developed to attract the MNC investments. Roads are full of shopping malls and huge cars. Soon computing will become a basic need.
On the flip side, out of one billion people in India, less than 10 million only have internet access. Those with internet access get to resources very quickly and even drain it before even some one without without internet access reaches it. Train ticket reservation is one major example. Using internet people log in and quickly book the tickets. Those who stand in the queue in the reservation counters may not be able to get it. Also, consider an eight standard kid working on a science project. A kid with internet access can just easily get to enormous details available on the net when compared to the kid who doesn't have. Digital divide is becoming yet another tool for discriminating already oppressed people.

In this scenario, the kids from Sudharshan Layout, just behind the Bannergetta road talked to the social activist Geetha Menon of Stree Jaguruti Samitti who visits the area regularly to have a computing center in the community room that they had access to. Geetha called for a meeting and proposed the idea to a set of volunteers. With few used computers donated by volunteers of Association for India's Development and a new computer from one of the volunteers, a computer center in the slum started.

We the kids of Sudharshan Layout took a oath to bridge the digital divide. We are children of loading/unloading wage labour, tailors, painters, etc are not part of the IT development happening around us. But, we just do not want to give up.

We the children of New Gurupanpallaya working with Ambedkar youth sanga, Stree Jagruti Samitti and Association of India's Development established a computing center for ourselves with donated machines and GNU/Linux running on it. We learn computers, teach others and prove that we are not inferior to anyone in this world. We have named out center Ambedkar Community Computing Center.

After working on establishing the center for a couple of months, we formally inaugurated the center on 06-July-2008. It was a great empowerment to see that we too have access to technology. Software Freedom Law Center (sflc.in) started showing interest when Eben Moglan visited the center during the end of the same year. Presently sflc.in supports and partners us in our endeavor.

Inauguration Ambedkar Community Computing Center

How Free Software helps us

We got familiar with GNU/Linux and started see how it is different from other OS's. While the technical skills developing one side, we frequently discussed on Free Software with the teachers coming to the center. We started understanding that the four freedom that are guaranteed by Free Software empowers us to value and exercise freedom on using the software, study it, share it with friends and improve it. Lot of people around us use illegal copies of other OS's and proprietary tools. But, we do not have to do any of these.

Free Software also helped us to work with a set of Free Software volunteers. We even traveled to Kochin with Free Software volunteers to attend the National Conference of Free Software. This happened on 15-Nov-2008 and 16-Nov-2008. There we even displayed the paintings created by one of our students, Mani, using GIMP. There were lot of takers for these paintings in the conference. With Free Software and Ambedkar Community Computing Center, we have started discovering our talents and bring it out to the world. This is every covered in The Hindu

Our volunteers at the National Conference

Finally, we are very excited that Free Software founder Richard Stallman has agreed to visit our center. We are now gearing up to have a nice chat with him.

With Community Computing Center we will make our Community a Computing Community.