Friday, September 30, 2005



By Elaine Meinel Supkis

In the past, I carried stories about how technology has penetrated far into distant, hard to reach places. Cell phones, most famously, are much easier to set up than hard lines. Satellite reaches places that hard wires can't reach, the expense of building and maintaining hard line systems is huge, look at the hurricanes this year!

This is why I am a fan of solar energy and other systems that don't require hard wiring.

The latest entry to this technological revolution is ever cheaper computers but if one doesn't have the energy systems or it is hard to maintain in tropical climates, an outdoors/self energy system computer is a god send and the gods are planning to descend and give the world this great thing.

An Indian businessman who makes a lot of money off of technology discovered that when he installed computers in villages with a little information, the children would figure out how it works within a few hours. This revelation is now being extended to lap tops, making a sturdy, hand cranked self energizing laptop for under $100 is a great revolution for this means nearly everyone in America or other third world countries will be able to buy or own one. Too cheap to steal, so to speak.

I believe every school child should have one. They need to learn to type, hand writing is still used but typing is a much more important skill. All jobs requiring any writing all say, "Can you type fast?" So typing skills should be second nature. People who grew up without computers struggle to interface with it due entirely and only because they can't type fast. I type as fast as I think. But then, I have been playing with computers for over thirty years.

Learning in a large classroom in the third world, when one has one's own "teacher" in one's lap, will accelerate. Even here, it should. Nothing is more boring than being forced to sit through a teacher's droning when one is way ahead of the class or way behind. Computers go at the speed one chooses to go.

And a hunger to communicate? This is huge with computers. Look at the explosion in the number of blogs! My own blog "suffers" thanks to this since I have encouraged everyone who posts here to start their own blogs...because they all write so beautifully and are so interesting! Whoopee! May a billion blogs bloom!

I really am happy about this. Self publishing, intercommunication, access to information despite the government (heh, China's rulers better figure this one out...censorship isn't going to save their asses!), playing online games, seeking data, all of this is the Revolution that matters: the world wide web and the data collection open to humankind will change us all, rapidly. It already is.

I used to be a voice lost in the wilderness but now, I am heard once again across the planet. I note in the data here, people read me all over the place and I read blogs and news from all over the world, myself. This co-jointure of us all across borders and time is important.

We are a power! And we have power! And this new laptop idea is tremendous power! May more breakthroughs like this happen! And I hope to have one for myself, eventually. One I can carry around outside and not worry about losing $3000 if it is broken or stolen.

&spades From the BBC:
Of all the cool, futuristic machines featured on the television series Star Trek, the "replicator" was certainly one of the most useful.

A character simply asked for a cup of tea, and voila - the replicator would make a cuppa.

A machine that can make anything sounds like the stuff of the distant future, but a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) program is making personal fabrication a reality.

Around the world, MIT is helping to build Fabrication, or "Fab" Labs, and they are reaping results.

Haakon Karlsen's farm sits hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle. The tinkle of sheep bells is a constant reminder that humans, and their animals, have carved out a life here for thousands of years.
A must read, dense but well written article from the BBC. It talks about interesting stuff (to me, at least) like putting cell phones on sheep so one can track them and listen in on them---sheep do talk, you know. There is more than one form of "baaa" with them. You can tell if they are scared, or lost or puzzled by something, for example. Heh. Ask my lambies about that!

So, for every bad news, there is great news.

Keep the faith.

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