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Chat with us about incremental infrastructure (and more)

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    I invite us all to a chat http://www.worknets.org/chat/ on Thursday, August 9th, at 2:30 pm London time, 9:30 am New York time, about incremental
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 8, 2007
      I invite us all to a chat http://www.worknets.org/chat/ on Thursday,
      August 9th, at 2:30 pm London time, 9:30 am New York time, about
      "incremental infrastructure" and a proposal that I am working on with
      Jeff Buderer.

      Incremental infrastructure is a term that Ethan Zuckerman has recently
      introduced. I share a quote below from his article. It's about
      infrastructure that can be rolled out in Africa by focusing on the value
      of a local network and then stitching together the pieces.

      This is very timely for a proposal that I am working on. My first idea
      is to create social software that would serve people with marginal
      Internet access. Imagine living in rural Kenya and walking 5 km to use
      an Internet cafe which might cost $3 per hour to participate in our
      online networks. I would like our participants to be able to download
      our weekly activity (about 1 MB of letters, chat, wiki pages) onto their
      flash sticks and then read them on a used computer they may have at
      home. Then write their responses (or do other kinds of knowledge work)
      and upload that the next time they are online. This would let us work
      much more effectively together.

      One example of the business value of this connection is that they could
      pursue low-capital knowledge-intensive endeavors such as setting up a
      local wireless network. Such a wi-fi network could serve their local
      needs even if it is not connected to the Internet. Wireless access
      points (100 USD) and used computers (200 USD) can be gradually added to
      the network so that it expands one kilometer at a time. Indeed, local
      calls (and services) are more important for business than long distance
      calls. Thus the local network would grow stronger and after a few
      years it would hook up with the global Internet. Furthermore, local
      skills and services would grow with the network and thus be well primed
      for the global opportunities.

      I invite us to join in our proposal.
      http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Offline How might we like to
      participate? Also, I appreciate thoughts on who to approach that might
      fund work on this (about $24,000). What business value might we
      generate? Where might we start? And what are other examples of
      incremental infrastructure that we'd like to see? Our lab is pioneering
      the funding of small projects for 100 USD or so.

      I'm very interested in our laboratory working closer with the Rising
      Voices group. Perhaps we might host one of the Rising Voices chats?
      That would be great.

      Additionally, I'm looking for people who we might video Skype on Friday
      and Saturday (my skype is minciusodas). On Friday, August 10, at 2:00
      pm London time, 9:00 am New York time for about three hours our young
      Lithuanian poet Tomas Taskauskas will investigate What is creative work?
      and we will share ours and also try to create a song. Juan Carlos De
      Martin of the European Union thematic network COMMUNIA for the Public
      Domain will be there, too. Please join us! And on Saturday, August 11,
      at 7:00 pm London time, 2:00 New York time for a few hours I will
      investigate How might prayer in twos and threes provide a climate where
      we might helpfully challenge others and ourselves? Benoit Couture will
      join us from Canada. Perhaps we can pray together.


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +370 (699) 30003
      Vilnius, Lithuania

      Building big, starting small by EthanZuckerman.
      Conteh's project (Vodacom Congo, with 3 million mobile phone users and a
      market valuation of $1.6 billion) offers a new model. While it's very
      expensive to blanket a nation in mobile phone coverage, it's quite
      inexpensive to build a single tower. With even one tower in a major
      city, Conteh found that customers would queue up to buy phones, giving
      him revenue to finance additional expansion. In an incremental
      infrastructure model, each investment starts generating revenue quickly,
      allowing an entrepreneur to finance more infrastructure. The
      availability of mobile phones has had unexpected economic impacts.
      Farmers check prices in the market before putting their harvests onto
      trucks or boats for sale. Carpenters, welders, and other technicians no
      longer need shops -- they have their tools and their mobile phones, and
      travel to work where it is available. Leonard Waverman, a professor of
      economics at the London Business School, has found that an increase of
      10 mobile phones for every 100 people in a developing country leads to
      an increase of 0.59 percent in GDP per capita. The existence of a
      communications infrastructure benefits the whole economy. Governments
      that encourage foreign direct investment -- especially investment from
      their diasporas -- are more likely to see incremental infrastructure
      develop. Successful Internet and phone projects suggest that there are
      at least three common characteristics of successful incremental
      infrastructure projects.

      * These projects are atomic: A small part of the infrastructure is
      useful by itself, like a single mobile phone tower that allows people in
      a single city to make calls to one another.
      * The projects are financed in part by users, lowering the costs for the
      operator: Mobile phone users buy their handsets and Internet users
      purchase their own computers.
      * Finally, these projects are providing capabilities that weren't
      available before: they're new services, not an upgrade of existing systems.
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