A group of people from Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential team are heading out to Western China next week to raise awareness on a firsthand basis around issues involving the digital divide for rural communities in emerging market countries. You can learn more about the project on the UP home page. The team will be evangelizing existing UP programs targeting rural access like Telecenters and Infowagons. They will even be participating in a "Gobi March" endurance race across the desert.
From my perspective this is an interesting project because it involves direct interaction between people from Microsoft’s corporate headquarters with people living in the types of rural villages that our programs and technology efforts are trying to serve. One of the goals of this blog and the UP web site is to "Tell the Story" around what Microsoft and other groups are doing in this space. Too often we wind up writing about announcements Microsoft execs (myself included) make at various conferences around the world. Now don’t get me wrong, these conferences are important because they are often used by government and NGO leaders to exchange ideas around best practices and new programs they can use.
But there is something refreshing about actually "getting out there" and reporting on the kind of impact we can make. The UP team plans to do a lot more of this web based reporting over the next year. So I wish the team well and can’t wait to see how this project turns out.