January 27, 2007

So You Want To Help the World?

When I was an academic, one of the problems I struggled with was relating information technology to the basic needs of populations in less-developed areas. In my M.Sc. classes I tried to explain the irrelevance of high-tech information systems to someone who was struggling to find clean drinking water and sufficient food. These explanations were somewhat academic (no pun intended) in nature because I haven't visited such areas or even been in particularly close contact with them.

If you would like to help others less fortunate than yourself PyCon gives you a great opportunity. I have been corresponding with Oouc, who says:
Thank you greatly for your interest. People in the disaster area, especially Nias, have had their old way of life destroyed. Many are now beggars because their type of employment before the tsunami and earthquake 3 months and 2 days later is gone. The March earthquake destroyed 80% of the buildings and killed many of the business leaders because they could afford to live in large heavy concrete houses.

Their primary need is jobs. But before the tsunami/earthquake the great majority were poorly educated tribal language only gatherers in the cocanut and rubber tree plantations. They need practical education in the national or international language if they are going to have a real life after all the results of their old way of life has been destroyed.

The Internet has a wealth of Public Domain materials which could help accomplish this education but it is not accessible to these people. I have an expenses only, no salary, grant to grab these Public Domain materials, put them on a local server and LiveCD's and make them available to Nias and Aceh residents in the original language and in translations to their national and tribal language. Decades ago, I was called "the impossible man" by a translations society because they were repeatedly told by computer scientists that something was impossible but I never failed to do what they wanted. Now most of my time is spent helping others and I cannot even do what I want to do. The sprinting or distant programming help of any Python programmer who can develop almost anything for education would be helpful.

I joined a sprint on a dial-up connection half way around the world last year and was able to benefit much more than my small contribution.

People who want to help should look at http://us.pycon.org/TX2007/EducationalSprint and the two links on that page. If they will give me their name or handle, abilities and interests; then eMail to me or leave their contact info on the wiki then I will plan to use their abilities and turn the sprint more towards their interests.
The tsunamis have left large communities without visible means of support: lines of communication have been cut, buildings have been destroyed, coastlines have changed (sometimes by over 50m/160 ft) and livings have disappeared. If you would like to help people who have been thrown into turmoil through no fault of their own then consider signing up for the sprint, or getting in touch with Oouc at the conference (as I intend to) and offering your help.


Chris Bassoo said...

Posted by Chris Bassoo

Congrats for being a blog of note...great job!!!...warm regards Christopher Bassoo

by Chris Bassoo, Canada

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is great! Most people do not understand the real needs but Steve has added real insight into the needs. Please see
for how you can give of yourself from anywhere in the world to provide the best solution available to you and me.

CoralPoetry said...

Hi, Steve,

I gave you a shout-out by name at Mark’s Hex Dump but forgot to post your link. I think I’ve just learned how to do that. It happened by a fluke or sleight of hand, once. I noticed that you followed right behind to put that right. Hey, I’m not placing comments to get popular – I’m on a break from poetry as it’s getting a bit stale and once that happens it hurts the brain to read it. I’m now furthering my musical composition skills and placing sporadic comments here and there for fun.

Re: Your post: "Things You Don’t Expect". That picture is the new login to ex-Beta Blogger. I contacted blogger help and they thanked me for the error codes that they provided whenever I tried to login. I suggested it would be nice if they could see their way to making me a Blog of Note as compensation. Those aliens won’t stop spreading the manure.

Are you enjoying the snow? It is probably a normal event for you in Scotland but it has stopped everything in the south – transport, schools etc. We are wimps, really, not prepared for any eventuality.