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|Originally Published: Thursday, 2 March 2000||Author: Brad Collins|
|Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles||Page: 1/1 - [Std View]|
Advocating Linux in Southeast Asia
As the Internet, Linux and Open Source juggernaut picks up steam, there has been some lip service paid to the growing divide between the digital haves and have nots. Most people have just shrugged their shoulders and said that there's not much that anyone can do about it.
Rubbish. Mobile phones are finding their ways into corners of the world that don't even have electricity. Take a walk through the illegal Burmese immigrant squatter camps in Thailand and you'll occasionally hear a Nokia handset polluting the afternoon peace with "she's coming round the mountain." A friend of mine who grew up on the Thai-Laos border bought the first television in his village. There was no electricity, so they hooked it up to a car battery. This was less than five years ago. Technology has a way of seeping into the most unlikely places if it's given the chance.
I believe that Linux can potentially help to jumpstart the network economy in many poor countries in ways which most of us, in our comfortable technological first world cocoons, can't imagine. But again, only if it's given a chance.
I've heard that UNESCO is working on such a distribution (though I can't find any information about it on the Internet) but this is not the way to go. Linux is a grassroots movement, organized and developed largely by volunteers. My gut tells me that the UN won't have any more luck trying to process this through their Byzantine bureaucratic juicer than the Chinese will have with their government-spawned Red Flag Linux (though I am sure that there will be no lack of good intentions).
What is needed is someone to help get the ball rolling, to advocate and to organize localization projects in the third world. This is exactly what I propose to do in southeast Asia.
Please check out the proposal and spread the word. I am looking for ideas, discussion, publicity and sponsorship. Help with any of these things would be greatly appreciated.
Brad Collins, email@example.com