delivering poor Internet to poor people

Mark Zuckerberg's project bribes corrupt, non-neutral carriers in poor countries to exempt Facebook and other services of its choosing from their data-caps, giving the world's poorest an Internet that's been radically pruned to a sliver of what the rest of the world gets for free. Read the rest

$35 Firefox OS smartphone - back to the drawing board

Ron Amadeo's review of the much-heralded Cloud FX phone, a $35 smartphone for the "rest of the world," paints a gloomy picture of a poorly thought through first outing. Read the rest

$35 electrochemical analyzer

Aaron writes, "The good folks of the George Whitesides Laboratory have been dedicated to making cheap medical tests and analytical gadgets for quite some time. Now, they've really outdone themselves with this beautiful $35 electrochemical analyzer that can do everything from glucose tests to environmental analysis." Read the rest

Firefox OS and the unserved billions of the developing world

Last month, I wrote about the announcement of the $25 Firefox OS smartphone, aimed at developing world users who have never owned a smartphone and can't afford a high-end mobile device. An editorial by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry describes how such a device could find an audience of billions, and spur a new ecosystem of developing world developers who make software that's geared not just to the Firefox OS platform, but also to the unique needs of people in the developing world.

The vision of Firefox OS is a contrast to the Zuckerberg plan to supply "Internet" to poor people in the form of an ad-subsidized, all-surveilling walled garden. As Susan Crawford says, "That's not the Internet -- that’s being fodder for someone else's ad-targeting business. That's entrenching and amplifying existing inequalities and contributing to poverty of imagination -- a crucial limitation on human life."

Asking whether the Internet is good or bad for freedom misses the point. It's clear that network technologies have the power to track and control their users, and the power to free and enrich them. The right question to ask is: "How do we get an Internet that does more for freedom?"

Firefox OS sounds like part of the answer. Read the rest

Mozilla's $25 Firefox smartphone: a free/open device for billions of new netizens

Mozilla's sub-$50 Firefox OS smartphones are aimed at countries like India and Indonesia, where devices costing hundreds of dollars are out of reach of hundreds of millions of people. The idea is to bring a smartphone running a free/open operating system that is optimized for Internet access to people who have no net connection at all today.

The phones are slow and only have a few apps, but they're infinitely more useful than a candybar-shaped "feature phone," and with their low pricetag, many people will be able to buy them outright, rather than being beholden to phone companies who subsidize handset purchases through long-term, abusive contracts; and they'll get online using devices that don't lock them into a single company's ecosystem for email, messaging, and apps. Read the rest

Documentary on activist who taught people to make solar cottage industries in 16 countries

Richard Komp has taught people how to make solar as a cottage industry in at least 16 different countries over the last few years.