Jason on Mon, 14 Jul 2003 23:08:15 -0400

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

On Saturday 12 July 2003 5:27 pm, M.Simons wrote:
> 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
> side.

Understood, sorry to fish you out (so to speak).

> 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.)

Agreed. I considered you in the group of "people thinking about, and doing the 
same thing." Hence, I was very curious of what your input might be.

> 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?

The closest LUG is probably PLUG, although we could argue it out with the 
Univ. of Delaware. But, Chester is in southeast PA, within Delaware County 
which is right next to Philadelphia County, probably within 25 miles of 
Philadelphia city limits. Since Philly kind of sprawls out, this could 
certainly be considered a PLUG Jr., within close proximity of PLUG Sr.

> 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.

Yes, I think this is where helping kids, parents, teachers, etc. to learn to 
configure and support systems and help each other, with PLUG Sr as a fallback 
option is such a good idea. Not everyone is capable certainly, put if enough 
people are interested, a support group can easily form. I think many 
communities would benefit from such a community project. In some areas, maybe 
there's not enough interest for both a LUG Sr and a LUG Jr., and both groups 
just work together at the local LUG.

> 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.

Agreed, see my ramblings above.

> 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

I think getting the school involved to set up a community tech. center is a 
great idea. Couldn't 2 or 3 of the donated PCs be used for this? I thought 
there were going to be something like 500 PCs total donated, right?

> 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.

This sounds ideal.

Thank you for the valuable input. Again, sorry for "fishing" you out, but I'm 
glad the picnic bait worked. There seems to be at least a few people who are 
very interested in this project. I'd like to see this interest continue and 
something actually start to take shape.

If this works (maybe even if it doesn't), I may try to get something similar 
growing in Coatesville, which is in parts not too different than Chester and 
is actually in Chester County.

Jason Nocks

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