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Day Two – I have an OLPC + stories October 12, 2008

Posted by GuySoft in Hamakor, ITU.
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Yesterday at night my room-mate arrived. He is from a country called Kiribati. Its a small county in the Pacific, I am still finding it hard to pronounce his name. I hope to post when I get it :-) .

Today was pretty exhausting. We woke up at 06:00 and now the time is 00:09.

After breakfast we went to the Impact Hall, which is the central place for the conference that will start tomorrow. At the place there was an opening forum followed by a panel on technology and innovation.

During the day we all got an OLPC that was donated by the OLPC foundation! (yes, one laptop per youth fellow!). It seems that the foundation is merging in to the ITU, and OLPC donated 100 laptops to us.

Sadly we have connection problems in the area (HTTP authentication in the ITU seems like an oxymoron). However I hope this is the first step for me in entering the project – I can now develop of it!

Back to the daily routine – it seems all along the day the ITU was trying to push young people to be a part of it. Remember this organisation is really old, its prior to the UN and came up when the telegraph did. Now they need young new people to carry it on (after all this is good for everyone). There was a lot of emphasis on the fact that we have the power to change the lives of many and we are now a part of a network of people that can help us make this happen. This means that I can now channel requests to our county directly to the ITU people (good again because our country seems to have pretty weak connections to this wonderful union). They say we are now called Alumni (BTW it seems a single one is an alumnus), and that there are thousands that went thought this program, all and all it was pretty exiting.

At lunch I talk to Raza Jafari, the chairman of the board of directors of the ITU. We sat and talked about many things, I enjoyed the casual atmosphere. I asked him about the censorship law that is trying to be passed in Israel and if there is anything the ITU can do. He confirmed my thought that the ITU can’t do anything since its a decision made by the government, however he did seem happy to see that some people in the county understand the hazard that will be caused by such a law and know it should be stoped. After that I asked him about the problem we face in Israel regarding the non-standard webpages in important places like the government and banks, this is a W3C related problem, still, I wondered if there is any help the ITU can give. He did agree its a worldwide problem, but he seemed to be optimistic that slowly the big organisations will understand the benefit and standardize themselves. Finally I asked him about some idea I heard once in a lecture on TED, about connecting network repeaters to cars to form a huge mesh network, turning any highway to a huge internet pipeline. To my surprise he said there is some project in process, and told me to remember this again in the year 2012 (so write that one down).

Following this there was a technology and innovation (that word IBM has a patent on), there was a hot debate about countries like Indonesia and Australia. Where the service providers don’t have any interest to connect remote places, but are all focusing on the cities only. The outcome is monopolies of providers in remote areas, or worse – disconnectivity. It seems like the general solution was “use the right technology for the problem” (like WIFI meshes or satellite in those areas).

After the forum, I spoke to one of its participants Araon Chippendale from Australia, he is a radio astronomer in the microwave spectrum, his superior is the one who invented the wifi chip and sold it to Cisco. We went on to talk about astronomy and he briefly mentioned that his thesis is about galaxy formation (that stuff interests me).

After this I talked to  Dan Duzion from the Philippines, he is working on a project to recycle and set up old computers for schools with new Linux-based software. I am happy to catch someone like that here because I want to connect him to an Israeli team that is doing just that. Everyone can benefit from everyone else’s experience.

At the end of the day we went to a show for tourists with semi-traditional dancing. It was specular visually, but not much connected to the ancient tradition. None the less it was fun.

Here are pictures of the day:

I am on the left, with a small group at the area of the conference. The amount of countries is huge. I did not come to Bangkok, I came to the whole world

I am on the left, with a small group at the area of the conference. The amount of countries is huge. I did not come to Bangkok, I came to the whole world

Matt Keller with Siaeli Moshi and an OLPC

Matt Keller with Siaeli Moshi and an OLPC


1. Amna - October 21, 2008

Nice description Guy. As for censorship, even if the law is passed it would hardly be effective. As they say, nothing can be blocked on internet. People end up finding new ways to access forbidden material. The governments should understand that the more they try to ban something the more it will be accessed and the more harmful it becomes. Instead Governments should try to come up with reading materials (or maybe add as a syllabus is schools) for people especially Youth that tells them the pros and cons of internet socially, culturally and morally.
Also, I don’t think people passing these laws in most of the countries actually understand what they are trying to pass. So they need to be taught first what they are doing before anyone. What do you think?

2. guysoft - October 22, 2008

You are quite right Amna :-)

I have a saying: “The internet is like the street, it can lead you to the house of parliament, and it can lead you to an ally with a prostitute”. Blocking the “streets” as you may understand won’t solve anything.

As people who know how the internet works, we know this isn’t possible. However, it is a vital thing for us to make sure the internet stays free, after all its a pretty new thing, its inventors are still alive, its potential not reached yet. Some say we are like people 5000 years ago, just discovering writing.

Like we teach writing, we should teach how to use this tool, and not ban it. If people won’t learn it from school, they will learn it from everyone around them.

Still, the last decade or so we can see how the internet if flooded with people who don’t know how it works, and really there isn’t a reason they should (most don’t know how our microwave works after all).
If the government blocks places by default to non-technological people, they wont know how to unblock it. So we are back to square one – if its enforced to be blocked by someone like the government or a cooperation, its not going to be the internet we know and love.

I do agree with you that both sides who don’t know how the internet works, don’t know anything about what is going on (both the citizens and rulers). But a country can bock the internet (aka people) in certain ways, even on the internet, and we should stop it before it even starts.


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