Quinn Norton sez, "The Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative runs around the Middle East creating hackerspaces and fostering maker communities in places like Cairo and Beirut -- but its hyperactive lead instigator Bilal Ghalib is taking on his biggest challenge in his native Iraq. They're currently raising money to have a two day hackerspace, and create media (comic book and live stream video of hacker/maker stories) to support and inform people in and out of Baghdad about what hackerspaces are and what they can achieve. GEMSI doesn't just drop in and then leave. In Cairo they helped create relationships, looked for space, and eventually were able to jumpstart a maker community that is taking on its very own Egyptian flavor. Baghdad is an even bigger challenge, but as Bilal points out in the GEMSI Kickstarter video, Baghdad has a long history of being a place of tremendous creativity and invention."
Imagine you are a young Iraqi student, just graduating college. Opportunities to work in the country are few, and working outside Iraq is difficult due to strict visa requirements. Your country still experiences violence weekly, while also facing many technical challenges characteristic of a developing country. You want to build the country, you want to share – but you feel isolated. You hear about a group of people who have an open space near the center of town where you can build almost anything. One day you decide to see what it’s about. There, you find others like you: looking at the world around them and thinking about how they can start creating solutions. They are creating open source medical devices, filling potholes in city roads, creating clean street initiatives, or making alternative energy products to fix the intermittent power issues of Baghdad. These are people taking initiative. They are looking to take ownership of their cities and build the change they want to see – serving their communities on the most direct level. At this open space, you have finally found a home to put your talents and energy to work. You’ve found a group you can trust, they are courageous, curious, and want to help you create a better future. You feel happy, you feel capable, you've found your people.
Quinn adds, "It's a remarkable project, ambitious, but done by people who know what they're getting into." These two points are critical for me, suggesting that the money will go to something that actually happens.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.