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Letters to Myself
Saturday, 3 December 2005
Digital divide
Mood:  not sure
Topic: Computing
Read about a new scheme to provide commodity-priced computer systems to all the schoolkids in third-world countries.

BBC article on Green Machine"

This might be pure esoteric impenetrability, but I wanted to add rather parenthetically that wifi networks have not been known to form spontaneously from primordial soup. Distributed wifi coverage is somewhat complicated to implement and requires some supporting infrastructure with ongoing technical maintenance. Larger networks often have problems with interference and signal degradation.

Will this project also distribute and install the wifi infrastructure?

In a village with no electricity, how will the wifi routers be powered?

What happens when problems arise in the infrastructure? Lightning strikes a router? Water buffaloes stampede across a network concentrator? Monsoon winds topple a repeater tower?

I suppose these kinds of questions have been asked, but I have not seen the answers. Just pie-in-the-sky praise for the concept of getting everyone plugged in.

I just cannot help imagining that somebody in this elaborate scheme is thinking about all the ways money can be diverted from expensive grandiose projects like this. Imagine your company contracting to build a million of these little green boxes. Or securing a grant to install and maintain wifi networks through dozens of villages and towns.

Perhaps I am completely wrong, and it won't turn out like so many other UN-affiliated do-gooder schemes.

Posted by jcobabe at 9:07 PM MST
Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2005 9:12 PM MST
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