Design Technology Lab | NYU Abu Dhabi
Laura Li, Jay Chen
Ghana saw, between 2009 and 2011, the number of internet users (per 100) increase from 5.4 to 14.1, a 10 percent change in two years. This drastic change in internet use is the largest increase in internet use in the country’s history and the same trend can be seen in other developing nations as well, including: Honduras, Guatemala, India and Indonesia. The 5 billion people who are currently disconnected from the Internet or just starting to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) often suffer from low quality or lack of Internet connectivity despite high enthusiasm and investment of resources in computers. Unfortunately, the gap between network infrastructure and the requirements of Internet services continues to widen and it is not understood how these users will adopt and interact with existing and upcoming ICTs designed for the western world. Many interesting technical and design challenges exist in this space.The quality of Internet connections around the world is extremely varied and very poor in rural areas despite high enthusiasm and investment of resources in computers. We wished to explore whether there were challenges to Internet use in addition to the poor connection quality itself. In our study we found that beyond connectivity, the lack of computer knowledge, poor usability of web interfaces, and “foreignization” of technology compounded the problem. To improve web access in these contexts, we designed TroTro, a browsing system that maintains a usable experience despite fluctuating connectivity and a wide range of user expertise.