Jay Chen - Projects - Publications


View this page in Romanian courtesy of azoft

RuralCafe is a platform for web search and browsing over extremely slow or intermittent networks.

RuralCafe improves web search and browsing by providing an expanded search query interface which allows a user to specify additional query terms to maximize the utility of the results returned by a search query. Given knowledge of the limited available network resources, RuralCafe performs optimizations to prefetch pages to best satisfy a search query based on a user.s search preferences. In addition, RuralCafe does not require modifications to the web browser, and can provide single round search results tailored to various types of networks and economic constraints.

RuralCafe consists of two main components the local proxy and remote proxy. Each proxy is responsible for a different set of web optimizations. The local proxy is meant to be deployed at the local area network gateway to perform caching, enable local search, and manage client requests. The remote proxy resides on a separate machine on the other end of the slow network link, and is presumably well-connected to the Internet. The remote proxy coordinates with the local proxy by accepting requests, and attempts to prefetch useful pages and filter unwanted content on behalf of the local proxy. Together, the two proxies coordinate across the slow link to maximize its overall effectiveness.

The web optimizations implemented at the proxies may be broadly configured for either low bandwidth, high latency, and/or intermittent connections. I.e. A low bandwidth connection setting would cause the prefetching algorithm to prefetch pages more conservatively or stop prefetching altogether. We are in the process of implementing an automatic detection of the link characteristics to reduce the level of technical knowledge required for installing RuralCafe.


December 13-18, 2010
RuralCafe user study presented at DEV, "Comparing Web Interaction Models in Developing Regions".

September 30, 2010
Open sourced RuralCafe on Google Code.

September, 2010 @ Nairobi, Kenya
Deployed CIP in conjunction with RuralCafe at 5 peri-urban schools near Nairobi, Kenya.

April 18-19, 2009 @ Doha, Qatar
Demoed RuralCafe to the ICTD community.

August - Sept, 2008
RuralCafe preliminary study in Kerala, India.


Site #1: Kerala, India

User needs assessment study for early design phase, usability prototyping and full-scale study comparing asynchronous queueing model(RuralCafe) against traditional web browsing model(conventional browser) in low bandwidth environments.

Site #2: Kalpakkam, India

Preliminary user study of CIP + RuralCafe with lesson plan bookmarking tool in Kalpakkam, India. We worked with a teacher in an after-school program to use the set of tools to evaluate ease of lesson plan construction.

Site #3: Nairobi, Kenya

I worked with Strathmore University in Nairobi to coordinate students for teaching using the CIP + RuralCafe offline web portal. Below is a photo from Olkeyuado Boys High School.

I setup a pilot deployment at five peri-urban schools near Nairobi, Kenya:

View CIP Schools in a larger map

Relevant Publications

Comparing Web Interaction Models in Developing Regions
Jay Chen, Aditya Dhananjay, Saleema Amershi, and Lakshmi Subramanian
Proceedings of the 1st Annual Symposium on Computing for Development (DEV)
London, UK, December 2010.

RuralCafe: Web Search in the Rural Developing World
Jay Chen, Lakshmi Subramanian, and Jinyang Li
Proceedings of the International World Wide Web Conference (WWW)
Madrid, Spain, April 2009.

Web Search and Browsing Behavior under Poor Connectivity (Extended Abstract)
Jay Chen, Lakshmi Subramanian, and Kentaro Toyama
Proceedings of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI)
Boston, USA, April 2009.

Source Code

The source code for RuralCafe may be found here.

If you have questions or are interested in contributing, please join the google group and post there so everyone can benefit.

Last Updated: April 1, 2011