Mokurai

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Founder, Earth Treasury, an NGO to link schools around the world for education and business. See Plans and Essays.

NEW PROJECT: Replacing Textbooks XOs and other netbooks cost much less than printed textbooks, so as soon as we replace enough of the textbooks with Open Education Resources, we can explain that OLPC + Sugar delivers better education while saving money. Mokurai has received permission to set up a server for this purpose at Sugar Labs, and is also raising funds to support it.

Crowdrise logo 51x51-1.gif CrowdRise Fundraiser donations

Mokurai volunteers at OLPC and Sugar Labs as a volunteer coordinator, localization administrator (Khmer and Kreyòl), and general knoker (an especially Yiddish know-all, the kind who did math homework in pen), based on

  • his training as a mathematician, classroom teacher, amateur musician and linguist, philosopher, and Buddhist priest
  • plus his lifetime of encyclopedic reading, many years in high-tech market research and technical writing, and work in Unicode and Free Software.
Ah haz teh bestest toyz


Vision

End Poverty at a Profit all around by educating children to collaborate and not be helpless.

Quotes

  • Epictetus - "Only the educated are free."
  • Aristotle - "All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses."

More quotes

Mission

The mission is whatever planning, funding, research, development, and deployment is needed to make that happen, with a focus on Management by Exception in order to keep on top of what is needed in changing circumstances and make sure that nothing gets missed that we must have.

Sugar Labs has the Sugar software as its main focus, but needs to work with others on the rest of the mission. We should raise substantial funding to support these substantive projects, up to the point at which they can become self-sustaining, in the manner of the Grameen Group of companies.

These are the principal elements of the mission today. More will appear.

  • Extend the OLPC and Sugar Labs work with evidence-based education research, curriculum development, and the redesign of textbooks, taking maximum advantage of software on the XO, and of the best research that we can find or carry out on how children learn, and what is of greatest value for them to learn.
  • Engineer appropriate solutions for electricity and Internet connections in even the poorest and most remote villages in every target environment, in collaboration with university Schools of Engineering, Engineers Without Borders, and others, in order to maximize the usefulness of XOs to children everywhere.
  • Work with microfinance organizations to place these electricity and Internet solutions along with XOs. The intention is to jump-start local economies by selling modest amounts of surplus power and bandwidth, and thereby raise the money to pay off the original loans and make further investments.
  • Create an R&D consortium to further all of these goals and whatever else turns out to be necessary. We know that issues of economics, governance, social attitudes, and sustainability are important. What do we need to know, and how can we come to know it? What can we learn from the children themselves, and from teachers, parents, and others?
  • Tap into Barack Obama's plans to increase global development aid by $25 billion annually, including a $2 billion Global Education Fund; into the UN Millennium Development Goals program; Make Poverty History; and all of the other initiatives that share our vision, even if they don't know it yet.
  • Save as many languages and cultures as possible from extinction by teaching the children how to record them.
  • Link children, schools, and communities together around the world in a safe manner for collaborative development.
  • Teach children how to create sustainable international businesses together using their new knowledge and skills.

Current Projects and Partners

OLPC and Sugar Labs, of course, within the scope of their own missions to provide hardware, software, content, and teacher training materials. In each case, the intention is to expand to a comprehensive, integrated program including infrastructure, education, community development, and economic opportunity. Volunteers, donors, and partners welcome.

By country

  • Ghana
    • Nana's House (school and orphanage), computers, Internet, and accessories for students and teachers
    • Winneba Linux Users Group, Linux+Sugar Installfests
    • Catch IT Young youth computer training
    • University of Education, Winneba, research, curriculum, teaching materials, localization
    • OneVillage Foundation Ghana, Winneba wireless broadband project
  • Nigeria
    • Fantsuam Foundation microfinance project and Cisco Network Academy
  • Kenya
    • Asante Foundation Maasai schools and cultural preservation
  • Uganda
    • Bunabumali Good Shepherd Orphanage and School, computers, accessories, electricity, Internet
    • Mt. Elgon coffee growers co-operative equipment and training
    • School programs and the rest
  • Tanzania
    • Mt. Kilimanjaro coffee growers co-operative equipment and training
    • School programs and the rest

Components

  • Interactive digital textbooks, with Lots of partners.
  • Free computers for schools, two per pupil: one at school, one at home. Possibly Computers4Africa
  • Flash drives for carrying software and work, so that students can use them on any computer
  • Electricity generation and storage, Engineers Without Borders
  • Broadband Internet, OVF Ghana
  • Microfinance, Fantsuam Foundation
  • Economic opportunity, education program to be developed at EduForge, social entrepreneurial investors welcome.

Analysis

The following is as much a prediction as a set of goals. Much of this will happen regardless of us. We can make those parts happen sooner, and more effectively. The other parts have to do with the new ideas that we are discovering and shaping together, particularly integrated development that includes the economy, the social structure of society, and spiritual growth. The only project that I know of that currently does this is the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, which I commend to your study and, if possible, participation.

Preliminary

For several years I have been seeing a gradual coming together of many strands in development toward the possibility of an integrated strategy that can be replicated worldwide. After the initial stage, it should all become self-sustaining in the manner of the Grameen Bank, Grameen Phone, and the like, and thus independent of the usual sources of non-profit funding. Here are the leading strands.

  • ICT4D, including newly powerful mobile phones, computers, and Internet at prices that make sense in even the poorest and most remote villages, given the promise of economic growth to enable paying back costs.
    • One Laptop Per Child, for many reasons, including a rethinking of curricula, textbook content, and publishing models. Scarcity of information is no longer the limiting factor in education. Electronic publications still take effort and time to write, but the reproduction cost on the Internet is nearly nil. Governments will soon realize that they don't have to buy textbooks. They can contract for writing textbooks and other materials with the proviso that the government, or we should say the public, owns the copyright. We can take advantage of Free Software and Open Access publishing throughout this process, and of a century of discoveries in how children really learn. Currently XOs are $198 each, with $75 versions promised for 2010. GiveOneGetOne is to start up again in November.
    • WiMax and other broadband technologies that can provide Internet to whole countries (90-95% coverage) for $10 per person installed.
    • Fiber optic cables for every country in Africa. There is one installed on the West Coast, two being laid on the East Coast, and four more promised. Rwanda and the other dozen landlocked countries in Africa are making deals with their neighbors for overland links. Some regions in Central Asia may take a little longer.
    • New satellite launches that promise both to break the current cartel pricing in Africa, and to link Africa directly to South America, the Middle East, and Asia, not just by multihop through Europe.
    • African banks that are now in a position to start creating a continent-wide network and to roll out electronic banking.
    • Global GIS initiatives dealing with mapping critical poverty issues: environment, water, agriculture, climate, health, and much more.
  • More than 100,000 of the million and more NGOs of the world now connected with each other through Wiser Earth.
  • Barack Obama's plan to double US Foreign Aid, and redirect it to much more efficient methods (toward helping the poor, not just subsidizing US agriculture, manufacturing, and consulting). This includes a $2 billion annual Global Education Fund.
  • The microfinance movement's casting about for the next big challenge. I predict village electricity and Internet along with school computers, and I am working on alliances toward that end.

Sugar Labs has taken over software development for the OLPC XO. Walter Bender of Sugar Labs is putting together a research consortium to tackle problems in education, and I am assisting in recruiting, and in problem definition. My program is not of the usual kind, where we know what subjects we mean to tackle.

My version of the mission is: Whatever turns out to be needed. My self-appointed task is to find the holes in current programs, and fill them, first with my own efforts and second by recruiting others to do the work, research further solutions, and plan where we might go next. Among the critical tasks are village electricity and Internet, redesigning curricula and textbooks, and bringing all of this together into target communities with microfinance, with a flexible, integrated business plan for whole societies to advance societal infrastructure (education, health, clean water, and other essentials), and the private sector (sole proprietorships, sustainable international companies, producer and consumer co-operatives), and shared values.

It is no longer practical to impose the illusion of shared values on a society. They must grow out of the situation. The report on OLPC's early effects in Ethiopia gives a glimpse into where we are going. Within a few months, in a highly traditional society that has valued teaching politeness and obedience over subject matter in schools, and where asking questions of a teacher was considered insulting, the XO and its software have opened up a new, collaborative relationship between teachers and students. This is in no small part attributable to the collaborative nature of the XO's Sugar and other software. Access to the information riches of the Internet is another important factor. See Academic Papers on the OLPC Wiki for this and other recent reports.

There is more, but that will do to begin with.

General Consequences

  • We are looking at the possibility of ending poverty as we know it within a generation, except in the most repressive countries (Burma and North Korea are the most likely, but a few others might possibly regress).
  • We are doing this by means that promise far freer markets, with
    • Market access for all, at least for electronic markets, including easy entry and exit
    • General availability of essential economic information, including the price of almost anything right up to the moment
    • General availability of production technologies, except where embargoes linger (Cuba, Burma, Syria, Iran, North Korea and a few others)

In short, these and a few other points add up to the closest approximation to the economic ideal of Perfect Competition ever seen, worldwide. We can confidently predict the largest explosion of productivity and prosperity ever seen, and at some point the end of the continual search for ever-more-benighted denizens of ever-poorer countries to ship jobs off to. The existence of wage differentials between countries is conclusive proof that their market relations are not free.

  • A complete communications network, in which every person will have the means to connect with any other person who answers the phone.
  • Directories and social network sites that enable everybody to find the right people to do business with and make alliances with for any economic, social, spiritual, or political purpose.
  • We can confidently predict an explosive growth of civil society organizations worldwide, among other things.

AKA

  • Edward Mokurai Cherlin/Czerwin
  • גרשון בן יסעף
  • Эдуард Георгеевич Черлын
  • 장영구/張永久
  • 法雲默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज

Contact

Background

Mokurai has extensive experience in every aspect of computers, as a tech writer, editor, and publisher, global market analyst, and software developer. Previous work includes math software and textbooks, Computer Science papers, Free Software for voting, Unicode support on the XO, fighting spam around the world, and earlier anti-poverty projects. He can sometimes get people to stop talking past each other and answer the real questions (though not necessarily Nicholas %-[ ). See, for example,the IETF discussions on multilingual URIs.

When I wrote a guide for new Internet users at Newbie.Net, there were three questions I couldn't answer:

I'm contributing information on countries and languages on the OLPC Wiki, including writing systems, fonts, keyboard layouts, sources of literature, and other items of interest, and administering localization projects. I will be adding material on education and on the other impacts of the Laptop. It will have major effects in social development, health, economic opportunity, politics, and other important areas.

Contributions

I started to work on OLPC documentation, but then I discovered that even more pressing needs were being ignored. So now I have appointed myself Shadow Chairman & CEO of OLPC. Don't tell Nicholas.

Social Networks

I'm on too many of these networks. If you want to connect with me, please use LinkedIn, Wiser Earth, or Flickr for photos.

Wikis

There are too many of these, too.

Generalist

Buddhist priest, software developer, market researcher, technical writer, Peace Corps volunteer, cook, goatherd, music teacher...

I edited the Geode processor manuals for National Semiconductor, before they sold the product line to AMD. (The Laptop contains an AMD Geode processor.)

Languages: Hebrew, German, Latin, Russian, French, Swahili, Korean, Japanese Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, Classical Greek, Lojban, Klingon

Programming languages: APL, LISP/Scheme, FORTH, SNOBOL, FORTRAN, COBOL, Algol, Java, C, C++, Pascal, Smalltalk, Python, scripting languages. And I'm learning Squeak.

Unicode

Free/Open Source Software: I-APL, Open Voting Consortium, others

Math

Science Check out Astronomy Picture of the Day and the world's biggest telescopes, for neutrinos and gravity waves.

Co-founder of global anti-spam organization, The Coalition Against UCE (Unsolicited Commercial E-mail)

Music: Yale Concert Band and Marching Band, clarinet; First Prize, Classical, in first-ever Foreigner's Korean Music contest of the Korea Herald on gayageum; Slavyanka Russian Chorus; Music Around the World pre-school multilingual music program; banjo, recorders, spoons, piano, harpsichord, dumbek

Simputer: Simple, inexpensive, multilingual computer for poor people

Village telemedicine over wireless

Science Fiction: John Brunner would have loved the OLPC project if he had lived to see it. Check out Stand on Zanzibar (includes national development projects in fictional countries), The Shockwave Rider (integrated disaster recovery and sustainable communities), The Sheep Look Up (environmental catastrophe), and The Stone that Never Come Down (What if people couldn't ignore information they have?).

Geek code GAT d-- s+:+ a+++ C++ UL++ P+ L+++ E- W++ N+++@ o+ K++ M+ b+++ e+++ h---- r+++ w--- APL++++ House, MD+++

Basic level in Korean, Chinese, Swahili, Japanese, Spanish, German
Intermediate level in Russian, French