One TOPAZ for Every Village
One Laptop per Child is closer to reality with the Children’s Machine (CM1). One of the key features is that it “creates its own mesh network out of the box. Each machine is a full-time wireless router. Children – as well as their teachers and families – in the remotest regions of the globe will be connected both to one another and to the Internet.” Each laptop will participate in an ad-hoc network with each laptop operating in a peer-to-peer fashion. This opens up a slew of possibilities for the laptops.
Why not have a TOPAZ server running in every village that could be browsed by every CM1 in the nearby network? The TOPAZ repository can contain Open Access articles published on medicine, neglected tropical diseases, etc. This would help build science and health capacity in low-income countries. But the TOPAZ repository isn’t constrained to just Open Access – it can contain any type of object from video presentations to textbooks.
Take a TOPAZ server and add every piece of educational material licensed by Creative Commons. Load the repository up with course material from MIT Open Courseware and Connexions Repository, textbooks, lesson plans, music lessons from Berklee Shares, museum resources, architectural solutions, agricultural information, etc. Setup a peer-to-peer TOPAZ network for information to be sent to remote repositories as soon as it is available. Put this in a village surrounded by CM1s and imagine the possibilities.
There’s talk that the CM1 will revolutionize how we educate the world’s children. The reality is that the CM1 laptops will be used by children and shared by their families. If the information is available, then the CM1 will truly revolutionize education.
I work for a non-profit organization called the Full Belly Project (http://www.fullbellyproject.org), and we design and disseminate Open Source Appropriate Technology (OSAT) for developing countries. Particularly labor saving agricultural devices, that we believe serve as the foundation for most developing nations where most of the citizens live on small rural farms. In any case we posted the manual for our flagship, the Universal Nut Sheller invention on Instructables.com here: http://www.instructables.com/id/ERSV3ZTAA8EP287HYR/
Recently they have teamed up with the OLPC folks and they are issuing a call for content for these laptops. Go here for more info:
The folks at Instructables have provided a great system to disseminate open source designs. Put perhaps PLOS would be interested in creating Journal of Open Source Appropriate Technology so that these designs can be verified through academic sources.
Full Belly Project