R H I Z O M A T I C A | Mobile Communications for All
News of Rhizomatica’s work in at least one small town in Mexico came via a front-page feature in Mexico’s La Jornada. Rhizomatica’s effort is not unique; there are others working around the world seeking to make the vast number of regular phones (as opposed to smartphones: not connected to the Internet) more useful and less simply vehicles for buying yet more powerful (and probably useless) smartphones. The problems that most of the world faces when it comes to mobile (or any) telephony starts with the initial device cost but immediately encounters everything having to do with using the thing, as well as keeping it charged. And then there’s the problem of accessing the Internet usefully. Individual approaches, and approaches that promote a proprietary individualism, I tend to find short sighted, and I think experience has shown me right. Rhizomatica’s approach is not like that, nor are many of the others now operating in, for instance, Africa. Rhizomatica explicitly seeks to act as a bridge using open source technologies so that the other half of the world can have mobile telephony and even, perhaps, the Web. But these efforts, however, modestly successful, escape much news because they are not marketed by well-known multinationals; they are often spearheaded by enterprising communities and groups outside of the common business narratives. As they put it on their About page:
Our mission is to increase access to mobile telecommunications to the over 2 billion people without affordable coverage and the 700 million with none at all.