A plan: the Internet, weblogs, Iraq, and freedom

A plan: the Internet, weblogs, Iraq, and freedom
: I’ve been harping on the opportunity weblogs can bring to a newly free Iraq.

Today, Paul Boutin weighs in, suggesting: “There’s a great opportunity: American computer makers should be seen over there setting up a few dozen free public PCs with high-speed access. Or just leapfrog into the new decade by handing out wireless laptops.” And a commenter below adds: “Miscosoft and Dell need to get on this and start donating some free computers.”

This will not take much. The plan is this simple. It needs:

1. Bandwidth. MCI is over there installing mobile phones. It would take nothing — nothing — for them to bring Inernet POPs to a handful of locations in the major cities at the same time. If I were running MCI, I’d do it as a mitzvah, considering the hell my company had caused the world. But a foundation could underwrite this as well.

2. Computers. My commenter is right: Lots of companies — Dell, HP, IBM, Apple, Gateway, Microsoft, Intel — can afford to donate machines. It won’t take many, just a few hundred.

3. Tutor. Iranian webloggers needed Hoder to explain how to blog. Salam Pax could do likewise.

4. Space. The U.S. and British military should find space for temporary Internet cafes that could be used by servicemen for X hours a day to email home and by Iraqis most of the day to exercise their newfound free speech.

5. Guru. Somebody needs to bring this together, getting companies and foundations to donate bandwidth and machines and getting the government to facilitate this (and see that it is in America’s interest to encourage such free speech). I’ll volunteer. So will many others, I’m sure.

What comes out of this: A hundred Salam Paxes. A thousand Salam Paxes. The intelligent, caring, involved future of Iraq will come online to share their experiences and opinions and hopes and fears and Iraq will be better for it; so will the world, for we will build bridges to Iraqis online.

History has never had a better, cheaper, easier, faster means of publishing content and distributing it worldwide. Now is the time to take advantage of this for sake of democracy and freedom and nothing less than that.