Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogging from the warzone: implications and strategies for the Global Citizens Movement

One of the most effective, non-violent weapons used again the Burmese military junta was the power of blogging. Since most humans are, by nature, sympathetic to other human suffering, the internet provides a powerful medium to communicate this suffering to the larger world.

Without the media (pictures, video, first-hand testimonials) and the medium (the internet) the message is obscured and more easily manipulated or ignored.

Reporters without Borders has published a useful handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents detailing how to blog from a place on Earth which is tightly censored. It includes things like how to circumvent censors, use proxy servers to disguise your true IP address, and other interesting strategies.

But how do you deal with governments who shut down the entire network? Even the Burmese military was able to shut down the whole system once they realized the effect the bloggers were having on world perception of the protest and crackdown. Again, we must have independently powered and inconspicuous methods for reaching the larger Network. The only option I'm aware of is satellite broadband internet connections. Do you know of a better one? Comment it in.

Barring another option, how can we make satellite broadband connections work on a large scale in a rural environment?

The Problems Waiting to be Solved:

1) Electricity. How do you run these satellites in villages with no regular power?
2) The Platform. How do you link cheap mobile phones, cameras or laptops with the satellite?
3) Cost. Who's paying for the satellites and the peripherals like the platform?
4) Vulnerability. How do you avoid retaliation from the authorities for having a satellite dish?
5) Delivery. How do you get these satellites into the country?

The first three problems are shared by rural education programs, while the last two are unique to repressive governments. Any ideas for solutions or criticisms of the satellite method, let's hear them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Network

Forget free markets or Marx. The real power behind these systems lies in the network.

Today's society is based on the master-slave mindset. Some humans work very little and gain much, while most work constantly and gain little or nothing. Warfare, psychological stress and violence result. This model is inherently unstable and must eventually collapse for humanity to reach spiritual equilibrium in a more fair and equitable global world. So let's break it down to the fundamentals.

The Global Citizens Movement demands three things for every human:

1) Health
2) Freedom
3) The Network

Health includes food, medicine and a clean environment. Freedoms encompass everything that does not harm another being, like freedom of expression, freedom to move freely across the earth, and the freedom to pursue your dreams.

The final demand of the Global Citizens Movement is access to the Network, which is an informal term for an efficient communication system linking millions of humans across the globe. This is currently most similar to the Internet, which allows anyone, anywhere, to access the full spectrum of human knowledge instantly and cheaply. The Network allows global citizens to create cheap business models, bypass middlemen and distributors, and most importantly, tap into limitless information. Have you ever heard someone observing a new gadget remark "what will they think of next?" Increase the pool of inventors by a few hundred million and see what they say then.

Take a big picture view of the planetary phase of civilization. In this new era, the real divide is between the urban and rural. Urban cities will have the easiest time transitioning into a global citizens movement since they already (usually) have better access to medicine, doctors, and internet connections. The real choke point, however, is the villages.

Rural villages across the world don't need dimly lit factories and call centers. They don't need to migrate into vast shantytowns in mega-cities. The point is, once the Network penetrates fully into the villages-- they won't have to. E-learning, online conferencing, telemedicine, direct-to-consumer agricultural sales, and a hundred thousand thousand similar possibilities are waiting for Network penetration. You could be born a farmer's son in rural Nepal and still study economics. That same young man could work for an international consulting firm, or publish microcredit analyses, or find the best prices and distributors for his father's harvest. He could do all this, and more, through the Network, since the Network destroys traditional barriers like distance and the accident of birthplace. It is a new planetary paradigm unfolding before our eyes.

This blog will focus on one highly important obstacle to the Global Citizens Movement-- the lack of universal network access-- and the ways we might bypass traditional, expensive and impractical ways to link villages with the internet.

Let's get connected.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Why this blog exists

I created this website using free blogging services offered by Google at blogger.com.

You can do the same.

The more we network with our fellow global citizens, the easier our life and our struggles become. Broadcast your voice and soak in the ideas and thoughts of others.

This is the information revolution.