I’m at eTech in Tomas Krag’s (http://wire.less.dk/) talk, “Wireless Networks as a Low-Cost, Decentralized Alternative “, which is an interesting look at the impact of free wifi in third world countries.
Tomas has a bunch of examples of adhoc networks including Satellife and WideRay in Uganda, SchoolNet Namibia, DarkNet and FirstMile Solutions in Cambodia, DJurslands net in Rural Denmark, Rebel Net/The Peoples network in Indonesia.
Rebel Net is using Linux computers and wifi to hook up 2,000 schools to the net in Indonesia. Tomas says that there is a lot of corporate pressure to not install these networks because big business will lose money.
Why do this when people don’t have clean water? He says it is not either/or, we don’t not send kids to school because they don’t have shoes. Also, he says he is not great at drilling wells and he is good at cheap wireless.
There is no big picture, he says. He says he is happy and it is fun helping people one day at a time. He says he doesn’t think about the big picture because it is too depressing. It’s refreshing to see someone just trying to do a little good in the world.