M.Simons on Sat, 12 Jul 2003 17:31:20 -0400

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Re: [PLUG] Community Service Project (Devil's advocate)

On Fri, 11 Jul 2003, Jason wrote:
> Have we heard from the guy who goes by "multiple seriousity"? Isn't this what
> he does a good portion of his time. I'm sure he has some valuable input. If

I've been off struggling with my own hardware, (and distribution)
problems.. [And, they're still not totally solved.] I've also.. been
staying away from this conversation because it seems to have very active
legs of it's own.

I _could_ and have thought about posting a contribution to the
conversation, but while I have read many of the messages, I really
haven't followed the  thread(s) in sequence, or with much brainpower on my

I did notice one post with a lot of good questions, and plenty of other
posts with good thoughts, from both ends.  It is very important to play
devil's advocate when contomplating the plan for something like this.

A lot of work (and thought) has also been done on this subject already,
by other organizations and people thinking about, and doing the same
thing.  So it helps, too, to look at their analysis, do research (sorry,
no urls at this time.)

Off the top of my head, some thoughts, questions, babble, etc.:

Where exactly is this again?  I know he said something about some chester
school district.. I have previously heard stuff in another conversation
about how there is a chester county, and a chester, and one is not
actually in the other or something like that.  Either way, where exactly
is this underserved region/school district?  What sort of resources are in
that area already?  What other organizations exist?  Is there a LUG there?
a computer users group of any type?  Where is teamchildren or other
organizations in relation to where this is?  A community technology
center? Where are plug members in relation to this place? Are people
willing to travel to this place?

Uhm, okay, hardware.. hardware is a big issue.. or rather the issue should
be tools. . one needs to figure out "what do we want these tools we offer
them to be able to do?" Word Proccessing, getting online to surf and
learn, basic computer skills.. one needs to spell that out, and figure out
in this day and age (and as one goes along), what the minimum system
requirements are to do whatever that is defined to be.  One also needs to
contomplate the whole issue of upgrades, age of computers / the issue of
'dumping' old computers on the underprivlidged.

Motivation.. I've seen some things Jon has said.. but I'm not entirely
sure what sparked this initial project interest.. Is this a requirement of
the job?  Did you go and get arrested for jaywalking and then sentenced to
community service?  :D Are you just bored with plenty of time and decided
to do something good?  Did you talk to someone (say, maybe someone who
works at teamchildren) and they sold you with a fever pitch on the idea?
Do you have kids in this school district?  What is it?

Then there are all sorts of other questions about future support, where do
people learn about these computers, what are the issues with security
vulnerabilities and upgrades, etc.  There was a whole host of questions I
had thought about when I contomplated what happens when Jon "Q. Public
Goodcitizen" Nelson has to become Jon "State Trooper" Nelson to call upon
Little JimmyJoe and his family because their box was hacked and is being
used to dump spam, DDoS attack bigcorp.mil.gov, etc.
Personally, I passed on a paying (EASY) software install job for a friend
of the family because I knew he would probably in the future be calling me
for support (where else would he turn?) and I didn't want to be bothered
by that.  Support structure is a big issue.

In other words, resources are a big deal.

I would also say, that yes, forming a non-profit is a big deal and a lot
of issues. . being a project of a prexisting nonprofit is a possibility,
but it depends upon what one wants to do and what amount of work one is
willing to undertake.

After the questions are answered regarding location, what other resources
already exist, etc. . I would probably go towards filling in the gaps, if
they exist.. net-daying the schools (for those that are not familiar with
net-day, it is basically volunteers and contributors going into schools to
wire them for network access), and if there doesn't exist one, I would
make a community technology center, probably with a hardware-workshop/recovery
component.  Thus you build the infrastructure towards educating and
creating the resources that people can tap.  As part of the hardware
recovery operation, you bring kids (actually, whole families) in to learn
about how a computer works, the components, how to fix them, how to put
them together, how to load software, etc. . and then they get to keep the
computer at the end..  it's a giving them a fish, vs. teaching them to
fish thing.

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