Flash Drive Editor

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A simple device to integrate two USB flash drives (each $10 or less), a standard computer keyboard ($10 or less) and a flat monochrome text terminal of 24 lines by 80 characters (up to $100, but subsequently $50 and even $20). This device would allow one to read and edit text files and also share files. It would serve people (primarily literate adults) who have marginal Internet access (who walk or ride to an Internet cafe, pay by the hour, have a slow connection, must wait their turn, or use at off hours) or no Internet access at all. It would work hand in hand with online software that would allow one to download the activity of a community (such as the letters, newly edited wiki pages, chat transcripts of OLPC during the last week or so) and write and upload responses. It would encourage literacy, circulate content, and provide the access to expert content and online community assistance that would allow one to roll out local wireless networks and assemble computers from locally and globally sourced parts. It would also allow people to do knowledge work for the global market and to work on local projects in their home setting.

This device is proposed in August, 2007 by Andrius Kulikauskas of the Minciu Sodas laboratory for serving and organizing independent thinkers around the world. More than a dozen African participants at Minciu Sodas have to pay a lot of money ($1 per hour or $100 per month) to use Internet connections which are quite slow. This device would allow one to leverage 1 hour per week on the Internet with 10 hours or more of offline work reading and writing. See his proposals for the flash drive editor and for the downloader and uploader.

There are products already on the market that might be adapted for this purpose:

  • The main one is the AlphaSmart which is a Palm device with full size keyboard and triple-width screen.
  • Digital picture frames with USB Coby DP772 7-Inch Widescreen Digital Photo Frame with MP3 Player 5.6 inch for 71 USD DP-562 TFT LCD @ 320 x 234 pixels, 7 inch for 76 USD, 8 inch for 108 USD. Displays JPEG and BMP image files. Plays MP3 and WMA audio files and most MP4 and AVI files from digital cameras. A/V output for use with home theater systems; integrated stereo speakers. SD, MMC, xD and CF Card compatible; USB port for fast file transfers.
  • DVD Players with USB Coby TF-DVD7377 7" DivX Compatible Portable DVD Player plays digital audio, video, photos including from USB drives and SD/MMC cards. Digital and Analog AV outputs. 125 USD.
  • Photo viewers using a television and USB SanDisk Digital Photo Viewer SDV2-A-A30 for 28 USD, provides two USB ports and various flash cards, supports JPEG, MP3 and MPEG-1 for video, and you show by connecting to the audio-video input of your TV set.
  • Electronic organizers with USB Sharp OZ-290HII Pen Touch Wizard Organizer with Outlook Sync 5 lines by 14 characters, touch screen navigation, syncs with Outlook contact information on the PC, for 13 USD.

Next steps:

  • A first step might be to use old monitors. Check on prices for old monitors in Africa. They are probably not too expensive, and also they can be repurposed later for full-fledged computers.
  • Engage the Trashware community, which is centered in Italy.
  • Who might attempt building the 72 dollar computer? and what might we learn from that?
  • Contact ZBD Displays they have a technology for monochrome displays that seems quite readable, is low energy, and currently used for showing supermarket information.
  • Create Offline Editor software for users with marginal Internet access.
  • Organizing content and building a distribution network in Africa starting with the sale of flash drives.

Update: August 23, 2007, Mendenyo, Andrius Kulikauskas

Join us at the Mendenyo working group led by Samwel Kongere.

A name and website: Includer

Looking for first customers... Peace Corps ? World Health Organization ? World Space ?

We're also looking at how to use Bluetooth enabled phones http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?BluetoothPhoneIncluder

Andrius Kulikauskas won a 2008 Knight News Challenge award to blog about the Includer.

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