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.)

Fatin Histórico

More history developments!

A friend on Facebook drew my attention to this exciting site/project to help Timorese people document the history in and around them. “Fatin Historico” (Or “Historical Place”) is a blog in English and Indonesian (with Tetum language videos) where editors hope people will contribute photos, video and text. I can’t endorse the idea enough.

They write

This project is a labor of love of several youths who want to document the sites that made Timor Leste. We are interested in buildings from the ancient, Portugese, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian era, urban (and village) planning, hideouts, old conversations and the soil and sea of Timor Leste.

Take a look at the post about the Japanese caves in Venilale, a place that you may have noticed from the car and been curious about.

The editors are Kamil Muhammad of the University of Melbourne’s Architecture program, and Pedro Ximenes, a Baucau based journalist. They will be partnering with Architects for Peace.

I hope to contribute material when I get a chance. I think it would also be great for them to include an interactive map of the posts they publish.

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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Dengue in Dili

[Note: This was written a couple of weeks ago. With La Niña wreaking havoc on Timor, and non-stop rains, dengue appears to be more prevalent than normal this year, although I cannot find real data to back this up. This blog entry is dedicated to my bestest friend in Dili and her UNTL-attending sidekick, who nursed me back to health.]

I was about to start and finish this blog entry with “It sucks.” But that was me somewhat feeling sorry for myself, bitter and exhausted on the morning of Day 5.

Now I am at the tail end of Day 6. I am simultaneously irritated by one of the last symptoms, “tingling hands and feet” (read: this HORRIBLE itching that can last for 2-3 days) and bored out of my mind, I thought I would try and offer some tips to those who will not dodge the dengue bullet in Dili.

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Fake plastic flowers

I have never seen so many fake plastic flowers for sale in Dili. A week away from Loron Matebian – or All Souls Day, probably East Timor’s most important holiday – the streets near the Stadium, in Bairro Pite and other strategic parts of town are lined with lurid plastic flowers. “Loose” ones, fake bouquets, strings of flowers. They are bright purples, pinks, oranges, explosions of color.

The production of fruits and vegetables has caught up with demand in Dili over the past couple of years to an impressive degree. It seems a shame that the shame work to jumpstart these markets could not be done with cut flowers.

The fake flowers are probably an indication of the unparalleled disposable income of Dili residents – of the money splashed around with various cash transfer schemes and compensation schemes.

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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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