Unfacebooked, or a telcoms monopoly as seen from space

I’ve written before about Timorese interest in Facebook.

But with the continuing telcoms monopoly, Timorese people simply remain offline.

Below is a section of MIT grad student’s rendering of the “unFacebooked” world. Indonesia, including West Papua, is super connected. And Timor… increasingly has electricity (yellow dots) but no Facebook (dark green).

(The Facebook friendship map is dated December 2010. Let’s hope with the introduction of 3G the situation is no longer so bleak.)


Crowdfunding for Timor

I still work in the “development” business. I confess my sins elsewhere, i.e. Twitter.

But I will say, I have been searching for alternatives to help people support people in other places that does not involve big international organizations with operations and ‘footprints’. So I have been reading a lot about crowdfunding.

The idea of creating an online, global “kitty” is nothing new. Kiva has been around for years, but has recently undergone much scrutiny. It is hard to get these systems right, so that they are fair to recipients and donors.

That said, I wanted to draw attention to two crowdfunding experiments in relation to Timor. This is not a full moralistic endorsement of either, this is more like a plea to “give it a shot because everything else is annoying me right now”.

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Nativity scene hangover

This post goes out to all those Timorese youth who woke up under flashing lights in a manger this morning.

Those who have spent time in Dili in December, or who go by the name of Bishop Ricardo, will know what I am talking about. Timorese youth have long made nativity scenes into mini discos. Given the lack of nocturnal recreation in most of the country, it’s hardly a wonder people confuse that a hut with flashing lights with a happening night spot.

Unfortunately, either some kids have taken it to excess or a certain Bishop whose name is an anagram for killjoy has finally decided that these nativity nightclubs are the worst thing since Martin Luther.

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Crowdmapping colonialism and occupation

Perusing through the photos on Panoramio, a platform that georeferences photos and places them on the Google Earth map, I came across a number of users – mostly Portuguese – who have put images from their time in Portuguese Timor in the 1960s and 1970s.

This and reading about the efforts of veterans of the Colonial Wars in Africa to “piece together the puzzle of memory” got me thinking about the power of technology in the future to help fully invoke the room of mirrors, or palimpsest, that (is/)was (post)colonialism.

I spent hours, many hours fueled by Tiger during the dark evenings of 2006, sorting through terms of vassalage and kings (and sometimes queens), attempting to plot them on a map with Professor.

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Semo time

Flying over Timor is a thrill. I’ve only had the privilege a handful of times. This past trip we arranged a Saturday morning, paid joy flight with Mission Aviation Fellowship. MAF does essential medivacs and transport services for NGOs, and is extremely cordial and professional – we felt very safe.

The idea was to fly up the Lacló River and over Funar. It was spectacular. Flying only 500 feet over the ocean, we saw a massive sea turtle, dolphins, small whale (?), and a large crocodile near Taci Tolu.

We also noticed a rather amusing pattern in the small fish collection pools created for low tide on the Taci Feto. Amazing how a whole new world is revealed only a couple of hundred feet above.

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