Worldchanging tools promise the potential to bring on the future we seek, but unless tools find their ways into the right hands, they're useless. Therefore, while innovation is excellent, innovation diffusion is equally key.
InterConnection is a great example of an innovation diffusion organization. They build free/cheap websites for NGOs in the developing world -- check out their gallery, full of examples like the site they did for Help for Progress ("encouraging sustainability, dignity and hope") in Belize -- but they also deliver computers directly into the hands of people who'll put them to good use.
How? By collecting and rehab-ing old computer equipment ("ecycling" as they put it), which would have otherwise ended up oozing toxic chemicals in a landfill somewhere. In partnership with groups like World Computer Exchange, they deliver useful machines to folks who would not otherwise be able to afford them.
One question I had, which I couldn't find an answer to on their site: what software are these machines running? Some of them go to Microsoft technology centers in the developing world, which would sure tend to indicate that they're running proprietary code. (For a discussion of why this matters, go here, here, or here.)
There are probably a whole bunch of groups around the country who are recycling and rebuilding computers to send to the developing world. In Boston, one group is Tecschange (www.tecschange.org) which teaches people how to build their own computers and recycle others to send out into the world.
I wonder if anybody has linked these groups together so that they can strategize together and maybe leverage their activities; or whether they combine with other groups like Bikes Not Bombs, Jhai, or Enersol to do joint projects that include not only computer tech but also human power and solar.
I checked several of the sites in that gallery -- they all seem to be running Apache on Redhat.
Not exactly on the specific topic, but I thought this would be useful to further our understanding of the limits of various kinds of help.
Marginal Revolution: City Air
There are so many contributers, I wasn't sure who to email it to :-)
This is the first time I have visited this site and i would like to congratulate you on this promotion of global solidarity and on the initiative of taking action before it's too late for mankind.
Also hereby i would like to inform you of the existence of an organization of which i am a member of, found at www.mankindunited.org
with a mission of safeguarding humanity by means of science and to ensure a sustainable global development.
Please check it out if you get a chance and do not hesitate to post a message on the forum. The more united we are the more we can make a difference. GLOBAL SOLIDARITY FOR A SAFE FUTURE.
Let's secure tomorrow, TODAY.