The Longest Now

Introducing Afghan families to Wikipedia

OLPC Afghanistan currently works with school in Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, and Kandahar.   This is one of our most politically complex and interesting deployments.  The initial schools involved tend to be on the wealthy side, but are still often in areas with poor power and connectivity.

Jalalabad also houses Afghanistan’s only FabLab – which set up the first “FabFi” mesh network to serve the surrounding community.  After the deployment of OLPC laptops to a local school there, families began to have access to the Internet, and to Wikipedia, for the first time.  Here are three generations of one family, outside on their roof, browsing Wikipedia together:

Afghan family browsing Wikipedia together outside

An Afghan family browses Wikipedia together outside

(As it happens, one of the university students who helped localize the software into Dari and Pashto is also a Wikipedian.)

Over a year after that deployment finished, I am working with FabLab folk to figure out what a similar lab and community wifi setup might look like in Herat, where we also have an OLPC school and may add another.  They’re refreshingly fun and competent people to work with, and full of great stories about young Afghans taking interesting ideas and running with them, turning them into amazing art projects or montages or startups.   Any city trying out cool new technical innovations should have a fablab to amplify the joys of being on the cutting edge.

Today we have 4,000 families connected to eachother and to the Internet in Afghanistan through OLPC; we hope to have thousands more by the end of the year.  And now I’m wondering if we can get fablabs started in the US cities where there are significant OLPC projects.

A patent alternative: aaaaaagmmnrr

Hooke liked to note discoveries he had made before he had found time to exlpain and prove his discoveries.  He used the simple mechanich of anagramming an entire phrase:

The true Mathematical and Mechanichal form of all manner of ARches for Building, with the true butment necessary to each of them. A Problem which no Architectonick Writer hath ever yet attempted, much less performed. abcccddeeeeefggiiiiiiiillmmmmnnnnnooprrsssttttttuuuuuuuux

This code, not decrypted during Hooke’s life, was revealed on his death to anagram to: Ut pendet continuum flexile, sic stabit contiguum rigidum inversum — “As hangs a flexible cable, so inverted, stand the touching pieces of an arch”.  The modest original context follows; (more…)

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