The BRCK kickstarter project is moving fast, and well it should. Designed by people who do work in the field in Africa, the idea is to have a single, well, brick that will connect to the internet in any way available. It has a long battery life as well. They refer to it as a “backup generator for the internet”.
Ushahidi made a name for itself with mapping software to track reports of violence in the aftermath of the Kenyan presidential election in 2008. It’s software is now used to track many different things, but still including a lot of data-to-the-people projects. The BRCK obviously fits into that same vision — data can only get to the people if the people can get connectivity to the data.
One of the great things about the One Laptop Per Child project is that it automatically grows large networks from the laptops, and thereby gets both computing power and connectivity to masses of mostly-underprivileged and downright impoverished people (because the entire family can have some access to the child’s computer). (Also I think it’s great that the laptops look like toys, not because the kids like toys, but because it makes grownups using them look silly, which puts some counter-pressure on the laptops being appropriated by adults).
I don’t know how easy-access data will change the world, but I believe it will be for the best over the long run. It will be very disruptive in the meantime, and that can be scary and sometimes ugly. It’s gonna be a rough ride in many ways. But in the end, I believe that the long arc of data-to-the-people also curves toward justice, so I am more than technically intrigued by BRCK. I think it’s part of a deep current moving us towards a better place.
So yeah, I put in for one. The big question was between the v1 or v2, which have the same donation, but different delivery times. I decided that the soonest v1 would arrive is far enough away that I might as well wait a bit longer for v2. I’ll let y’all know what happens.