Archive for November, 2006

Air Jaldi Summit Presentations

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006






The Summit Presentations were launched with an great meal served in a traditional manner for beginning celebrations. The food is served on leaves and eaten without utensils. That’s my hand pictured above delivering goodness to my mouth.

Early on, Yahel Ben David chastised the attendees for using the network to watch the live-feed from our lap tops, thus slowing down the network and making it more4 difficult for people who actually aren’t here to see whats going on. Since the day ‘s program hadn’t even begun (waiting on the arrival of dignataries) we’re all apparently attracted to the idea of watching a live feed of ourselves. Somebody’s got to come up with a word to describe that particular strand of geek narcissisum..

Yahel’s opening remarks included a really excellent quote from His Holiness regarding the Internet. I was too busy with audiovisual documentation to write it down, but you can hear it if you view the video Yahel’s statement that I’ve posted below.

Other highlights for me included Dr. Richard Stallman from the Free Software Community and David Hughes. Stallman framed everything from his unrelenting ascetic viewpoint that all software should be be free, but his comments had broad enough strokes to be inspirational to anyone who’s passionate about protecting human rights, from any platform. They included the observation that human rights support each other: if we lose one human right, it becomes harder to support all the others. And that the free software movement strengthens the appreciation of of freedom leading to more people willing to resist the revocation of any freedom. Stallman is pictured above in a performative p

And as for David Hughes. The content of his presentation was very instructive and flavored by the experience of installing wireless networks and VOIP systems on Mt. Everest at the advanced age of 75. However, I equally enjoyed the fact that I felt I was receiving these illuminating words on community technology deployment from Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you h=check out the video here or on the Air Jaldi archive later. The “Public Policy” slide pictured above is just one of many Hughes items I’ll later reference in my work.

At one point, the conference structure was opened up to allow attendees to take 5 minute slots at the mic. This allowed for info to slip in in that was slightly divergent from the Summit focus. I was particularly happy to be introduced to Sheel’s work with kiva.org, an online tool that allowas individuals to micro finance low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world, and a project called Postamanet that delivers Hi-bandwidth courseware through the mail on cds and flash drives. I think both are excellent examples of using the “right” technology.

Of course after slaving away to document as much of the conference as I could, I manage to somehow not record the closing panel, which included me as a panelist. I’m sure though it will soon be up along with everything else on the Air Jaldi Archive.

Air Jaldi Summit Tours (Day One)

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006





Day one of the Summit included tours that allowed us to see both the installation of radio’s and attennae and the manner in which community groups are using the Internet connection provided by Air Jaldi. There were three tours, ranging from a “strenuous trek” to an “easy bus tour”. I chose the easy option , which turned out to be strenuous to me, since it lasted 8 hours, after my 5am arrival from a 12 hour hit-your-head-on-the-roof-of-the-bus bumpy ride from Delhi, which directly followed 30 hours of travel time from San Diego.

The pictures here show Dawa, one of my tour guides at an Air Jaldi antenna; a garden at the Norbulingka Institute for Tibetan Culture; play at the Lower Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) campus; open lab hours at a the most remote TCV campus; and a one of the artists at work in the Norbulingka studios.

My tour was incredibly informative and, from comparing notes with others, it seems all the tours were equally jam-packed with info and experiences. From the roof of the Lower TCV, we were able to see the Omni-Directional antennae 20km away that help make the mesh network redundantly reliable. At Norbulingka, Dawa explained that web developers have their own servers and use them to continue growing the world’s largest archive of Tibetan culture. This includes storing and editing video footage that gets included in productions sent out to support the Dalai Lama’s work. We were also treated to a wonderful Tibetan lunch here and got much education on Tibetan cultural practice and the life of Buddha from our guide Hans, who seems to know everything.

While some of the sites we visited could get their service directly from the National Telcom, BSN, the campus where I took the lab picture is so remote (think about it, when there’s a place that other places in the foothills of the Himalayas describe as remote, it’s really remote) that they would not be able to have service at all without Air Jaldi. Possibly dial-up, but that would be even more unreliable than BSN’s DSL service which drops connections constantly.

It’s worth noting that Air Jaldi uses wireless to get the Internet connection around the hills of Dharamsala, but the service sites themselves are all set up with wired networks.