Inverie, in north-west Scotland, had an exciting community event recently. Was it a parade? A concert? A sporting event?
Nope. Members of the super small settlement, with a population of only 110, gathered in the village hall for an internet tutorial where they learned about downloading, scanners, Facebook and Twitter.
A report in February highlighted that 11 million people in the UK still lack basic online skills. Inverie residents wanted to solve that problem in their tiny town.
Inverie is only accessible by ferry or a two-day hike from a mainland road. It took Hilary Cameron, the digital skills provider hired for the tutorial a five hour train ride and 30-minutes on a ferry to get there.
Inverie is not only isolated by location, it's not connected to the National Grid and has no mobile phone signal. The town is widely considered to be the 'most remote in the UK'.
Cameron was impressed when she arrived. “The students were waiting for me with their iPads and laptops – it felt very incongruous to see such modern technology in such a timeless place, but the internet is a vital link to the mainland.”
Morag Anderson, who runs a bed and breakfast in Inverie, said that she had realized the importance of digital technology for her livelihood.
“The internet was the only way we could run the business, by taking bookings and dealing with queries,” she said. “Interestingly I found that potential customers asked fewer silly questions when booking online or by email bookings instead of on the phone!”
Cameron continued “Twitter and Facebook are popular too, as they provide instant links to the rest of the country as well as to children who choose to stay over in Mallaig while at secondary school rather than commute daily.”