Viewsdesk - chasing the global public sphere

November 2005

Technologies12:45, November 23, 2005

FON, a Spanish initiative, a project with the ?goal to create a unified WiFi Network that will let members of the community to share not just bandwidth but also experiences and values?.

Why are they so focused on voice telephony, when it?s just one of the avaliable services if they can manage to set up, operate and maintain a grassroot access network? In the western world, charges for telephony is hardly a problem or a limitation for anyone: calls ? even international ? are very inexpesive in relation to the income level. They claim it?s a revolution, but really, they’re just offering something for free that is already cheap. Or am I missing something?

ICT4D16:26, November 21, 2005

MIT Media Lab unveiled a working prototype of the $100 laptop at WSIS in Tunis, last week. The project, as reported before, will bring computing en masse to less developed areas of the world. More information and specs is now also available.

Apparently, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer offered his latest operating system to the project for free, but was turned down by the Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the project, who opted for strictly open-source software.

Pictures from the demo (1 2 3) and press photos.

ICT4D06:08, November 19, 2005

There once was a time when Internet did not come in megabit speeds. In those days, people connected though modems hooked up to noisy analog telephone lines. Just ten years ago, I used a 28k8 baud modem – barely usable with the World Wide Web – but a huge upgrade from my previous 2k4 baud modem I had before. The thing is that I have become so accustomed to speed, that I have (almost) forgotten the chores of optimizing code and images. I have a 100-megabit pipe straight into my living room: over four thousand times faster than my first modem.

A lot can be said about the wonders of video broadcasting on the Internet, but for a majority of the world’s population, data is still transmitted over extremely low bandwidth carriers. (Let me remind you that GSM for example, can only handle 9k6 kbit/s in its original configuration.)

Lately I’ve been experimenting with trying to provide access to content trough narrowband channels, and for clients with a very small (and/or low-res) screen. Luckily, the tools are very easy to use. HTML is very adaptable and works well for most computers, micro-browsers and handhelds, and most mobile phones contain a WAP-browser that handle WML-documents.

Using (slightly modified) plug-ins (wp-mobile.php and wp-wap.php) to my blogging software, enabling access for other terminals proved to be a breeze.

My perspective is simple: By enabling WAP-access, for example, I enable an exchange of ideas with virtually all mobile phones on the planet. Needless to say, there are a lot of people who lack access to computers, but own – and know how to operate – has a cell phone. Isolated, as in this blog, it is irrelevant. No one cares.

But, if we are serious about projects like One Laptop Per Child, we must also be better at enabling content for those without fiber optic Internet connections, or Apple Cinema Displays.

It’s not as sexy as Podcasting. Not as cool as IPTV. But, if it can bring millions of eyeballs – I’m game.

This blog through text only HTML
This blog through WAP