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August 27, 2003



I'll second those comments about Lee; I haven't tried the coffee yet, but if the farmers are half as dedicated to their craft as Lee to his, I expect it's excellent.

Of course, the pedal-powered weather-proofed internet machine is only part of the problem, the other being the portal hub that receives their call and relays coffee prices in and availabilities out to the international markets, and this needing to be friendly to the local rural Jhai user is another challenge.

Bottom line, though, is that they need our support and we shouldn't think of this as just tossing one beached sand-dollar among millions back into safe waters, but as a prototype, an experiment to learn how we in the affluent west can build digital bridges out to a remote hinterland so that we can cease to call one developed and another developing, and just call us all Spaceship Earth.

Earl Mardle

That's a problem Gary, I agree, but I don't necessarily worry about the word getting out about the coffee.

When I spent some time with Lee in Laos last year, everyone was busy looking at the worldwideness of the web, while I was trying to get them to focus on the webness of it, work in Lao and talk among themselves, build faster and denser local and regional links as a way of supporting the efficiency of the local economy.

It doesn't make sense for the Laotians to try to sell and ship the coffee themselves, the administrative and organisational overheads would be appalling. Much better to get someone like Lee, or Thanksgiving Coffee to ship it out in bulk and take care of the distribution from outside Laos.

What excites me about the Jhai PC however, is not the connection with the outside world, but rather the communication among the 5 villages which is currently by foot only. And that is out as well for the monsoon season when the roads turn to soup.

I'm just itching to see what happens to the local economy when those villages can talk to each other, organise, trade and share their information any time they need to to. I did some stuff on the project here if you are interested.

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