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Donating Time To Goodwill Projects? 179

Posted by Cliff
from the perpetrating-thoughtful-acts-of-humanitarianism dept.
jukal asks: "I am in the process of writing a proposal for co-operation between Openchallenge and UNITeS (United Nations Information Technology Service) which is 'creating a global volunteer programme aimed at bridging the digital divide between industrialized and developing countries'. Currently & traditionally contributing as a volunteer means relocating yourself to the developing country to take part as a project developer/manager/specialist. My proposal to UNITeS is, in short, will be that people could participate in such software projects via Openchallenge - while staying in their home country, on their spare-time and while keeping their jobs. The local team in the developing country would, after defining and creating requirements specifications post sub-projects as tasks to Openchallenge. All the contributions submitted to Openchallenge are published under an open source license. My question is: would you for example consider donating some hours to help a goodwill project - if you could do that from home. This is of interest to me, as I would like to be sure that the time we put into building co-operating with a big organization like UNITeS and others in the future. Is not wasted. There is this thread about 'Volunteer Work Abroad' - which is good reading related to the subject. But it did not quite provide me with the answer."
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Donating Time To Goodwill Projects?

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  • Good idea (Score:1, Interesting)

    by galacticdruid (569137)
    I'm curious to see how this goes, I'm working on somewhat similar software. To answer the question, I personally would help if I truly backed the cause.
  • by Glove d'OJ (227281) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:47PM (#4524109) Homepage
    Donating geek time to charity is something that I have been pondering for quite a while... if I decide to write a piece of software for my favorite church, can I deduct the fair market value of that software on my taxes? Likewise, were people to contribute to an OpenChallenge project, would they be able to similary write-off the fair market value of that time?
    This situation brought itself to bear a few years ago, when I learned that a friend of mine was donating not only his time, but also hard $$$ for server space for his favorite charity. What, if anything would he be able to write-off? He uses the server for other projects, so not 100% is for the charity.
    Any accountant-geeks out there?

    ----------
    WWJD? JWRTFM!
    • by djmurdoch (306849) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:54PM (#4524165)
      Donating geek time to charity is something that I have been pondering for quite a while... if I decide to write a piece of software for my favorite church, can I deduct the fair market value of that software on my taxes?

      Don't know about the USA, but not in Canada. In Canada if you want to count the deduction, you have to sell the software to your church (counting the selling price as income), then donate the equivalent amount of money to the church to pay for it. You don't end up with any tax break because of it; you may even have to pay taxes (because you might be taxed at a higher rate than the charitable deduction).

      Duncan Murdoch
    • by CommieLib (468883) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:54PM (#4524171) Homepage
      IANATA (I am not a tax attorney), but from what I understand, you cannot deduct the value of donated time. If you mow lawns for a living and make $10 an hour, if you mow a lawn for charitable purposes you can only deduct the expense of the gasoline (and perhaps the depreciation on the lawnmower, but de minimus).

      As for hard $$$, that's definitely deductible as long as it's a legal charity, as far as I know.
      • As for hard $$$, that's definitely deductible as long as it's a legal charity, as far as I know.

        I'm also not an attorney, but... if that's the case maybe you could donate your time on behalf of the company you work for, and they could take the tax break since they're paying for your time/services. ....?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      In the US at least, you can't write off your time, you can for tangibles (travel, hardware, etc.). The argument against being able to write off your time it that it is essentially an even swap - i.e. if you billed at $X/hr, you could just work for Y hours, get the income, and donate $(x*y) to the charity, and write it off. Instead, when you spend time working for a charity, you just call it even.
    • I have a friend who works as a freelance contractor sometimes and the impression I got from him was that if the tax-deductible organization you do the work for gives you a letter or notice or something that you volunteered a certain amount of time as a professional whatever-you-do to help them, then you can count that as a tax write-off. You aren't deducting the time spent from your taxes so much as the professional service that you provide. I certainly can't vouch for the validity of his claim, and as a materials scientist I don't think I'll have a chance to donate my professional skills anytime in the near future, but it may be worth calling an accountant about if you're interested.

      Mr. Spey
      • That is what we do at the non-profit I work at. Can't attest to the exactly legality of this, but according to my boss if I donate time I should send a letter indicating how much time and "in-kind" equivalent money was donated as documentation.
    • by Martigan80 (305400) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:03PM (#4524246) Journal
      if I decide to write a piece of software for my favorite church, can I deduct the fair market value of that software on my taxes? Likewise, were people to contribute to an OpenChallenge project, would they be able to similary write-off the fair market value of that time?

      Pardon me but why must there be a value placed on the time that one donates? Call me conservative or what ever but I think the whole beauty of Donating time to help 3rd world countries is just the humanity of doing it. I mean that is why they are 3rd/underdeveloped right, because they can't do it them selves?
      How does it sound "I would love to help your country to be on par with the worlds supper power, but I can't write it off on my taxes, so stay poor."
      Besides donating to a church should not be looked at as a tax write off. Isn't the whole Open Source about giving to the better of the community? So now we have people indirectly asking money before the produce any code?
      • I volunteer my time (and, in some cases, money) with the Boy Scouts, a local aviation for kids program, and a few other charities and good causes. I do it because I like it, because I think it's important, and because I appreciate the fact that people volunteered time for me when I was a Scout, et al. I have no aspirations of financial gain, nor do I receive any (including tax deductions: I don't itemize).

        That said, there's nothing wrong with taking a writeoff if you're entitled to same. If you're volunteering specifically for the deduction, you need to examine your motives (and your methods: writeoffs are a poor way to "make" money), but there's nothing wrong with taking the benefit of it. Indeed, many people (myself included) have strong objections to the government, and feel that anything which (legally) keeps money out of Washington is a good thing. Would you say that accepting lunch while on a project site is verboten, because you derive gain from it? Certainly people who refuse to help because they can't profit from it need to do a little soul-searching, but if you're going to do it anyway (for presumably the right reasons), there's nothing wrong with availing yourself of long-provided benefits.

    • At work we recieved in-kind donations of services on a semi-regular basis.

      We recognize the value of any donation--cash, goods, or services. Cash is cash, goods and services, if the kind of thing that we would have to pay for in our ordinary course of business, are recognized at what we would have to pay for them.

      AFAIK, for tax purposes any donation you make, cash or noncash, is treated as a cash gift. I.e., they assume that you are paid for the good, and that you donate your payment back to them.

      Morally, you shouldn't have to actually pay anything tax-wise for volunteering, but you shouldn't necessarily gain any tax benefits from it, either.

      This situation brought itself to bear a few years ago, when I learned that a friend of mine was donating not only his time, but also hard $$$ for server space for his favorite charity. What, if anything would he be able to write-off? He uses the server for other projects, so not 100% is for the charity.
      Any accountant-geeks out there?

      IANAA-G, but if the server is set up to regulary handle other accounts, he could probably get by with marking the cost of a server account as a donation, as well as what someone would pay him for to do the same job for them.

      Just document everything, talk to your accountant, and be honest. You're paying the bloke to save you money so as to justify their fee, so let them worry about it.

    • As some of my tax references are fond of saying: "Your personal time is worth nothing to the US government" (in terms of tax writeoffs)
    • This situation brought itself to bear a few years ago, when I learned that a friend of mine was donating not only his time, but also hard $$$ for server space for his favorite charity. What, if anything would he be able to write-off? He uses the server for other projects, so not 100% is for the charity.

      I'm not an accountant but I think you could probably deduct a fraction of the money spent on the server that corresponds to the fraction of the server dedicated to the charity.

      In other words, if the charity uses 30% of the server's disk, bandwidth and CPU time then you could write off 30% of the cost.

      That's how it works when you split expenses that are part personal and part business (like a computer you use for work and for gaming). So maybe it works for charities.

      Michael

    • I am a practicing CPA with a concentration in tax.

      In the U.S., you can NOT deduct the value of time donated to a charitable organization.

    • Donated Services (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Idou (572394)
      When are donated services to a non-profit organization recognized?

      (S)pecialized skills are required and possessed by the donor.

      (O)therwise needed by the orgnization

      (M)easurable

      (E)asily

      You can remember this by the mnemonic "Some." (Directly out of the Becker Conviser CPA exam review).

      Assuming the orgization you donate to is "qualified," you must also observe the "charitable contributions limitation" under the tax code:

      Overall limit = 50% Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
      1) Cash - may be all 50%
      2) Property - is limited to the lessor of:
      a) 30% of AGI
      b) The remaining amount to reach 50% after cash contributions

      Notice this says nothing of "donated service." I guess you could treat the FMV of the service as "Property." However, I think you would have to go through old tax court cases to see how you should really go about deducting donated services.

      Disclaimer: I am in no way an accountant . . . yet.
  • by glenstar (569572) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:47PM (#4524112)
    My firm is currently working with the economic development council of an impoverished county in the Pacific Northwest. While the technology in this county is not quite as outdated as that in, say, Gambia, it isn't *that* far behind.

    We have found that the various city, county, and private organizations are willing to bend over backwards to work with us. Bear in mind, I am not talking about a purely altruistic venture on my own firm's part, but rather a joint venture between a private company and the community, with profits being used to further develop technology-specific public works in the region.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      > My firm is currently working with the economic development council of an impoverished county in the Pacific Northwest.
      > While the technology in this county is not quite as outdated as that in, say, Gambia, it isn't *that* far behind.

      oh, c'mon it's not that bad in Canada... :-)
  • Sure. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failrate (583914) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:48PM (#4524116) Homepage
    People have already proven at least a passive willingness with distributed computing projects. The next obvious step is to donate a little non-profit coding. Plus, this works well as an adjunct to computer recycling programs that benefit "Third Worlds".
    • People have already proven at least a passive willingness with distributed computing projects. The next obvious step is to donate a little non-profit coding

      Yes, think of it as donating your brain cycles, instead of CPU ones :)

  • Perhaps I'm crazy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordHunter317 (90225) <askutt@gmail . c om> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:48PM (#4524117)
    While I appreciate your noble intentions, I'm not 100% sure how software development would help most 3rd world and developing nations. Unless, I've really been living under a rock, most of the people in such nations who would benefit from such are high up the power ladder and have little to no interest in distributing down the ladder.

    Besides, wouldn't one have to focus on developing the infrstructure to run said software anyway. Last time I checked, running software needs computers. Computers need power, connectivity, and even sometimes access to this Internet thingy. If I wanted to lead a project to help developing nations, I'd be much more interested in building telecommunications and electrical infrastrucutre then writing software they probably can't run or use for much good yet anyway.

    While your idea is noble, I think perhaps it is a little too soon to be really globaly useful?
    • by TrollBridge (550878) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:58PM (#4524212) Homepage Journal
      That's why all those "feed the children" iniatives fail at their core. While it makes sense, on the surface, that the solution to feeding hungry people is to send them food (or money for it), what people don't realize is that there is virtually no way to get the food there.

      What would be more useful/worthwhile would be "lay the roads" or "build the bridges" drives that make it possible for all other kind of aid to reach those who need it.

      • That may be true in some cases, but you're generalizing pretty broadly. For the most part, you can get sacks of rice or beans to hungry people. It's not like they're being sent ice cream.

        In Africa, for example, the biggest problems are political, not logistical. Starving areas are controlled by armies led by psychopaths (which is why much of the starvation is happening). The armies steal most of the food to support themselves and use the rest to exert control over the hungry villagers under their control.

      • Why they fail... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dareth (47614)
        Sending food to a hungry person will, if it gets their only feed them a few times, then they are hungry again. You did not do anything but prolong their suffering. Their ecosystem is overloaded, this causes famine, plague/disease, and sometimes triggers war over resources. The less nice solution of for the majority of the population to die so as to provide an ample supply of food/resources for those that survive. Suggest that the birthrate be controlled... now that is unpopular.
    • Yeah. The technology industry isn't doing anything for India. Its not like they're attempting to convert their workforce into the majority of the Computer Science industry for the world.

      Oh wait. THAT'S EXACTLY what they're trying to do.

      They have little resources other than human resources, like a lot of third world countries (not all of India can be considered 3rd world, but most of it can). They are not alone in this idea. If you consider that the world itself is a national economy, and that human resources are also resources (just as an infrastructure is) then you can see that this can help 3rd world countries. If they don't have the infrastructure they need, that can be imported (or the people can be temporarily exported) to deal with that problem.
      • Understand that the portions of India that are essentially CS factories do have enough infrastructure to support this sort of activity. While its not very well-developed, it is sufficent. India is unique in that sense, because a lot of countries don't have the resource to just throw up an infrastructure overnight like the US can. Importing infrastructure isn't easy. It takes resources,money,time, and talent. Understand that last part, talent is mostly gainfully employed within industralized nations making their current infrastructure better. While it may not seem fair on a global scale its true. Overtime, everyone moves up the ladder, but the people at the top get further and further away from the people below them. This also applies to countries as well.

        As far as human resources are concerned, given that IIRC India has roughly 1 billion people, and China is the only other nation of that size, I'd hardly say that other 3rd world nations have lots of human resources.
      • actually from what I've read, you've hit on one of the major problems that India has. Their educational structure is such that people from various communities take national tests, and the top 1000 each year get to go to institutes (I forget what they call them). Among the top of these are those studying technology...

        Unfortunately, what happens is that the very top people there end up leaving India and coming to the US, where the work is. That country produces some of the greatest technological minds in the world (law of averages suggests this; their population is 4 times the size of the U.S.), yet can't hold onto them.

        Infrastructure investment should most likely come first...

        • Exactly. Meanwhile, and this is the unfair part, I'm here developing better roadway and roadway systems for the United States, which in all reality, doesn't really need them. Nice as they are, we could get by without a lot of the transporation projects in the US. However, its a job so I cannot complain. Ironic, isn't it?
    • by preggie_greggie (472247) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:11PM (#4524306)

      Starving, Dying Poor to Get Much-Needed Net Access

      Okinawa, Japan (SatireWire.com [satirewire.com]) The world's poorest nations reacted with elation yesterday after learning the G-8 economic powers have pledged to bring them into the digital economy by wiring their countries. "With access to stock quotes, entertainment news, and streaming video pornography, I will finally be able to feed my family," said Jamil Jurawa, who lives near a contaminated well in a small east Gambian village. "This is a great day and I hope not to die of dysentery before it ends."

      In late July, the Group of 8 authorized a Digital Opportunity Taskforce, or "Dot Force,'' to investigate how to wire the Third World and help bridge the rich-poor technology gap. Relief agencies denounced the plan as absurd, insisting that food and medicine are needed first. But the Dot Force argued that information is also critical, and to prove its point, it provided computers and Internet access to Jamil Jurawa and his brother Tamar, who lives in a neighboring Gambian village. The two exchanged instant messages that, said Dot Force members, exemplify the knowledge-sharing power of the Internet:

      "Tamar, I have no food. Do you have food?"

      "Jamil, I also have no food. But tonight Britney is to chat at E-Online!"

      "Good one! I am ROFLDM (Rolling On The Floor Laughing and Dying of Malnutrition)."

      "OK! CTFN! (Contracting Typhoid Fever Now)."

      • Funny but wrong. Along with Brittney comes access to information like:techniques for building lasting roads, generators, advanced farming techniques, open source software, learning utilities, math and science courses, information on diseases such as Aids, malaria, polio and the Prevention of these. Modern Sanitation techniques, not to mention the ability to communicate to people with skills they might not have. There are circuit diagrahms galore out on the internet. Methods for building electronics. water pumps. hell the ability to communicate with your fellow third worlders. Increases ability to resist an oppressive government (possibly, but hard)

        What you are trying to say is exactly as Holywood etc. would like you to believe all the internet is for. Entertainment is a disease.

        This project is exactly as I have been advocating in the past. Excellent. And if I had the coding ability I'd contribute myself.

      • by namespan (225296)
        Obviously information technology will not resolve any immediate and desperate lack in basic needs -- food, medicine, adequate shelter, clothing, etc. But then again, neither will literacy. What literacy (and perhaps IT) can sometimes do, is raise the social capital of a region to the point where it becomes better at providing for itself and (eventually) participating in a larger economy.

        What happens when you give IT to a pre-industrial society? We don't know. It'd be interesting to find out.
    • What software do the folks in the underdeveloped countries really need? I mean what specific software, that is not already written? Perhaps what is already around is sufficient? Just wondering.
    • by RobertFisher (21116) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:00PM (#4524638) Homepage Journal
      MIT's Technology Review article [technologyreview.com] on the state of high technology in Ghana should be required reading for the original poster, and all those interested in the subject of technology in the third world. The content of the article should give considerable pause to any clueless individual thinking that happily hacking away in their living room is going to substantially impact the living conditions of those living in the third world. While the article points out the immense promise of technology for the third world (one man interviewed had never received a piece of snail mail in his life, but had internet access, and could read news from around the world), that promise largely remains unfulfilled. The author states

      Making a telephone call here requires persistence. Roughly half don't go through because of system failures, but that's only the start of Ghana's telephone woes. The country has a mere 240,000 phone lines--for a population of 20 million spread across an area the size of Britain. Moreover, telephone bills are inaccurate, overcharges common, and the installation of a new line can cost a business more than $1,000, the rough equivalent of the annual office rent. Lines are frequently stolen, sometimes with the connivance of employees of Ghana Telecom, the national carrier. Phones go dead, and remain unrepaired, for months. Some businesses hire staff for the chief purpose of dialing numbers until calls go through.

      Moreover, even those fortunate enough to have access to the internet find themselves distraught by the knowledge of the incredibly poor conditions in which they must live. One internet cafe owner stated that the majority of users were online in his cafe trying to figure out a way out their country.

      The upshot is that much more effort needs to be devoted towards basic infrastructure -- sanitary, transportation, and information -- before an idea like that of the poster's would make much sense.

      Bob
    • by ronabop (520121)
      Certainly, not all countries need (or can afford) the decentralized information economy and infrastructure that the first world shares, but I think there's some possibilities for making a real impact.

      They don't have the money to waste on absurdities like 1 gig drives, 486 CPU's, video cards with more than 128K of RAM, or all of the much more excessive crap the first world uses to do absurdly simple, basic, tasks, like send messages or analyze information.

      That doesn't mean, however, that effective tools, that can benefit impoverished and starving peoples, don't need to be written and then run on simple (cheap) computers in the few places where power and electricity do exist, or that alternate infrastructure technologies (solar power, cheap radio transmission, etc) can't be deployed. They don't need "lickable", they don't need 3D, they'll do just fine with monochrome characters on 2 VT100's hooked into a 386 if it saves and improves lives.

      Some Examples:
      1. Route planning software for food/medicine deliveries in countries with unreliable transportation systems.
      2. Accounting software to reduce the amount of graft and corruption involved in monetary aid. (If bribes are required, as least they can be tracked, budgeted for in the future, and properly expensed.)
      3. Weather prediction software to help in crop planning.
      4. Water management software to help prevent over-usage, which creates (artificial) droughts.
      5. Simple communications hardware/software to relay information over low-tech, low-bandwidth, links. You don't need an email client->TCP/IP->DSL to send "Tornado coming, evacuate", you can do just fine with anything that does 300 (or even less) baud, like shortwave radio to a TTY, or, with human operators, 'net weather service->voice->shortwave radios work, too. :-)
      6. Inventory management software for food supplies, medical supplies.
      7. Simple message aggregation systems (remember why UUCP batched email was a good thing?) to speed up communications... (Village 197 needs penicillin brought in by jeep. Village 123 road out, needs 'dozer or shovels). Much faster than human messenger systems, and without the absurd overhead of the current crap we use.
      8. Water testing/sanitation issues/road building/disease statistics/famine information/etc. aggregation systems, so the minimal resources available can be focused on the neediest areas.
      9. Software to enable translation (and working translators) into *many* more languages than the computer world currently supports.

      I'm surprised by the cynicism in many of the posts, which smack of first world arrogance. "Oh yeah, we'll send them our current technology, and they can't use it, because they lack our current infrastructure..." They need the computing ideas and technology of the 40's to 80's, not 2002's. Right now, many places are trying to survive on the same level of technology (or worse) than the US had in the late 1700's.

      Come to think of it, the CPU cycles we *waste* on lickable interfaces, skinnable GUIs, looking for aliens, ripping crappy joke songs, or adding transparency to everything, could be better applied to *many* issues greater than the ones the first world faces.... with the CPU I use on a single protien fold sim, I could probably calculate *all* possible routes for a single food shipment to a village in Ghana.

      Apple had a campaign centered around a current desktop being equivalent to what used to be a "supercomputer". If every third world country could now afford a 70's era supercomputer, they could be doing many of the basic tasks we all take for granted now. For only 10 grand, *any* nation in the world can afford the equivalent of two Cray-1's, and accomplish *all* of the computing tasks outlined above, with only two power cords, and one phone line. It's not about the infrastructure to send colored IM text to the next village, it's about extremely simple needs to help solve issues too complex to be done on paper.

      It doesn't take a computer on every villager's "desktop", it takes computing power in the very few places that can benefit from it. Why would it need to be deployed in the same way? We already learned these lessons in the 60's, the first computing power to help the public was shared by very few people. It didn't look "pretty", it wasn't "fun", but that wasn't the point.

      Addressing another point, those same Apple machines cannot be shipped to some countries, because they're considered powerful enough to be weapons. Again, we *also* learned this lesson in the 60's: The military wants first crack at all of the available CPU cycles, and will use them. Despots will use them t enrich their power... that's a side-effect, side problem, but as long as the CPU power is kept low enough, it'd still be legal.

      -Bop

    • While I appreciate your noble intentions, I'm not 100% sure how software development would help most 3rd world and developing nations. Unless, I've really been living under a rock, most of the people in such nations who would benefit from such are high up the power ladder and have little to no interest in distributing down the ladder.

      Yes, I know that I cannot fix the hunger problem by this approach. Also, I am too much a sissy to take real action of going in there to help. One excuse is that I want to stay safely at home with the kids :) Anyway, if we with openchallenge [openchallenge.org] can give any contribution - it enables the local time to concentrate on other matters. Also, it might be possible to complete projects that were impossible before. Also, if you would make a contribution safely from your home, doing what you can do best (coding) - maybe the step of actually going there gets smaller when you are already more familiar with the work done there. Also, keep in mind that to fix the hunger problem, something needs to be fundamentally changed. Shipping in food and other resources is crucial but it only fixes the instant problem.

    • (Apologies if someone already brough this up...)

      Bill Gates was faced with this same dillema when he first set up his foundation [gatesfoundation.org]. He went to conferences, heard pitches for thriod world EMAIL, web access, broadband, etc. Finally, he realized the same thing you have - that there was little humanitarian benefit to pushing high tech solutions where they didn't fit naturally. Instead, he got solidly behind vaccine development [gatesfoundation.org].

      Say what you will about Bill, but he knows how to leverage his money to the task at hand.

      PS - And, please, no flames on "he only donates a tiny fraction of his money, so he's still evil incarnate..." I was just using the guy as an example.

  • by t0qer (230538) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:49PM (#4524125) Homepage Journal

    My favorite odd todd line. [oddtodd.com]

    And the fact that I seriously considered volunteering, made me feel better
    about not..volunteering.

  • I try to donate my time to different orgs around my comunity but I've been finding time really scarce lately. If there were a system like the one you described, if there isnt one already, I think I would be more inclined to do that then just some stupid widget that I have dreamed up over the last few days.

    I tend to work on things for other people much more attentively then stuff I do just for the hell of it.

  • Along those lines... (Score:4, Informative)

    by xipho (193257) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:53PM (#4524158)
    Check it out... do something like these folks [peaceworks.ca], except in your city.
  • Misdirected (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874)
    Why must all charity projects go to the lowest possible denominator? If folks have spare time that they want to donate, how about helping out in your own backyard first?

    It's arguably a noble notion, donating your time to those who have less. But how many of these have-not people and groups are in countries with backward or malevolent political and economic systems? Why should we all join a project to help [INSERT DICTATORIAL REGIME HERE]?

    I'd much rather give 5 USD to a local charity or even a street person, than to donate time to helping [INSERT PUBLIC "SERVICE" GROUP HERE] in another country. Where's the benefit in that, compared to helping out with local problems?

    Or is this another one of those Soviet-era things - "at least everyone is equally shabby" ?
    • Re:Misdirected (Score:2, Insightful)

      by C_James_B (458645)
      If folks have spare time that they want to donate, how about helping out in your own backyard first?

      How about, "Because the need there isn't generally as great"?
      Anyway, even if this software is bespoke, it's going to be available under the GPL, so anybody who has a use for it (and can get the source) can benefit from it.
    • Although i don't quite get how volunteering outside of your country is "lowest common denominator" i do agree that there are lots of opportunities to volunteer at home. There are lots of local community technology groups that do work around issues like bringing open source to the community like . Others like [mediajumpstart.org] digitaldividenetwork/benton [digitaldividenetwork.org] do work around bridging the digital divide. There are groups for people who want to volunteer tech services for schools and nonprofits like CompuMentor [compumentor.org]. And we can't forget the work that local User Groups have done for schools, nonprofits, and individuals over the years.

      Although techie volunteer programs abroad are wonderful experiences (i've been fortunate to do community technology work in S. Africa and China), you don't have to travel thousands of miles away to do some tech good.
    • Gothmolly wrote:

      > It's arguably a noble notion, donating your time
      > to those who have less. But how many of these
      > have-not people and groups are in countries with
      > backward or malevolent political and economic
      > systems? Why should we all join a project to help
      > [INSERT DICTATORIAL REGIME HERE]?

      Those dictatorships succeed by keeping their people poor and ignorant. A child with a computer and internet access can be exposed to new ideas and learn skills that can get them better jobs than their parents. Eventually the people become less poor and less ignorant and kick the nasty old dictators out of there.

      > I'd much rather give 5 USD to a local charity or
      > even a street person, than to donate time to
      > helping [INSERT PUBLIC "SERVICE" GROUP HERE] in
      > another country. Where's the benefit in that,
      > compared to helping out with local problems?

      Giving to a local charity is good, and you should help your less fortunate neighbors. But $5 USD, alone, is a drop in the bucket even for local problems. Regardless of whether the problem is local or in the third world, the better solution is always one that builds a brighter future where people can become proud and independent, rather than one that just fills today's hunger (or tries to fill it, only to have the grain carted off by the local bully).

      > Or is this another one of those Soviet-era
      > things - "at least everyone is equally shabby" ?

      Yuck! That's a disgusting philosophy. I prefer peace and happiness myself. ;)

      "The path of peace is yours to discover for eternity."
      Japanese version of "Mothra" (1961)
  • Priorities? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Hey the developing world might not have access to clean water, nutritious food, or adequate healthcare, but what's really important is that we teach them how to be 733T Dreamweaver H4X0RZ!

    http://www.blowthedotoutyourass.com [blowthedotoutyourass.com]

  • by IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:54PM (#4524175) Journal
    ...without leaving your neighborhood, let alone country.

    Go to your local library or school or community college and offer to teach free courses or help with the IT infrastructure. Be a guru for some programmer-to-be!

    I used to teach at an adult education centre which was free to students (though I did get paid, so I don't claim to be a humanitarian of unequal pedigree here). It was extremely rewarding and I learned a lot as well.

  • Comments (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:56PM (#4524194) Homepage Journal
    I think that in general it would be better to localize charity activities. Not to say that someone in France shouldn't donate time and energy to someone in Finnland but I have serious questions on the validity of the UN's organizational units. We can argue the whole "Globalization" issues with this. I hear man organizations already doing charity work on donating CPUs with Linux and stuff to emerging worlds but honestly, who needs a PC if your starving to death. My personal feelings are in a world with limited resources we need to have priorities in charitable work:

    1: Basic Needs (Food, Clothing, Shelter)
    2: Self Sufficency (Ability to make\get you own Food, Clothing, and shelter. Watch the Movie Soilent Green, or read the book why this is imporant)
    3: Advancement of Society Standard (Literacy, Freedom, Education)
    4: Wants, Computers, Cars, Leather Jackets and Blue Jeans.

    Emergine nations need to have a solid foundation and bridging the Digital Divide seems pretty damn low on the ilst of priorities if I am starving and have polluted water to drink. I think we can hold of on donating the limited dollars there are to charity and set more, I wouldn't say appropriate goal (I like the idea of briding the digital divide), but more pressing needs. It would be far better for the natives of these emergine nations to be able to afford buying a computer versus getting one for free. Even better yet to have an industry where they can make and compete in computer production.

    I think that UNITES needs to focus more on developing industies, markets, and agricultural areas before worrying about poor people having email. The idea that they want to Bridge the Digital Divide seems oddly out of place when you apply it to nations that have people starving and dying of terrible diseases. There are limited charity dollars in the world and we need to take a hard look at where they go and how they are spent and I just don't see this as a project that needs the money. The Peace Corp. seems to be the best bang for the charitable dollar. I hope this post sparks some discussion on which charities do the most good with the dollars they get. Good luck to UNITES and friends.
    • Re:Comments (Score:2, Insightful)

      by avandesande (143899)
      what does 'Soilent Green' have to do with being poor? I have never heard of poor people eating each other, only soccer teams do this.
    • How's the saying go?

      If you give people a fish, they eat for a day. If you teach people to fish, they eat for a lifetime.

      If you teach a community how to use/manipulate technology, they become better equipped to get employment. So you've given them #2: Self Sufficiency. By getting jobs using the technology you've taught them, they can take care of #1: Basic Needs. Once they have work, they can worry less about #1 and start concentrating on things like educating their children and participating in the political process (#3). And one day, when they're good little consumers like the rest of us, they'll be able to waste their time keeping up with the Joneses (#4)

      :)
    • Well spoken, but you're presenting a false dilemma. It's not a choice between feeding starving people OR giving them a computer. The volunteer resources, in particular, that are being directed toward the latter goal are unlikely to help very much if redirected to the first goal.

      Nor is implementing technology a waste of time for people in dire straits, as you seem to imply. Consider email communications to experts in other parts of the country or on the other side of the planet; Internet access to scientific, medical and agricultural resources; and the ability to coordinate programs to avoid duplication of effort. These are some of the things we all take for granted, but take them away and your making a very hard job even more difficult.
      • Concerning your post tell me this: What good is emailing an expert on farming going to do you, if you have no seed, fertilizer, or water? You need the raw materials to implement what ever your technological research comes up with. The first and most imporant goal in building a strong nation is have the ability to feed yourself and while computers can help a great deal in agriculture I don't see the need to spead the limited charity dollars on computers yet. I can see you point but I think a volunteer would be better used digging a well and building irigation ditches versus loading a Debian based Pentium computer. Hell many of these countries don't have a decent electric system. What would the cpu run on? (If you say a Fuel Cell I will scream ;) )

        • What good is emailing an expert on farming going to do you, if you have no seed, fertilizer, or water?

          Of course it's no good; that's why different services need to run in parallel. As the parent said, many of the resources dedicated towards technology can't easily be redirected towards other means: I'll gladly teach folks to run computers, but I won't dig ditches. Indeed, ditch-digging would be a waste of my skills: it'd do much more good if I were to teach computers at home for profit and donate the money to pay locals to dig the ditches than to dig the ditches myself.

          The other thing is that there's not one single pot of "limited charity dollars". There are charity funds for food. There are charity funds for tech. Many of the people who spend money on charity funds for tech would not be willing to spend that same money on charity funds for food. Many of the charity funds for tech accept direct hardware donations -- how much good does that do to a food bank?

          Look at the value of cell phones in many developing areas. Computers have the promise of being at least as useful. Are they a substitute for food or clothing? Of course not! Does that mean that those who are receiving assistance with food and clothing shouldn't be given assistance in tech as well? By no means.

          Finally, wrt the power grid: Dunno 'bout everywhere, but the area of Ghana around Acra gets semi-reliable power at least part of the day. That's good enough for many communications purposes, at least given a battery backup. Other solutions are available as well -- manually powered generators, etc -- with varying levels of cost.
  • Tech Corps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jimmyCarter (56088) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:57PM (#4524197) Journal
    I'm in my first year as a Tech Corps [techcorps.org] volunteer in Ohio [techcorpsohio.org]. I basically donate two afternoons a month to a public school district in town to assist teachers with technology projects in the school. We'll be working on re-designing the high school's Web presence and we'll also be conducting a lesson with French students to make fictional travel Web sites of French travel desinations.

    In my opinion, you can't beat the gratification that comes from doing something like this. I get the opportunity to lend my expertise to an inner-city school district that could greatly use it. Definitely a win-win. I can't encourage this enough.
  • Google? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aborchers (471342) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:57PM (#4524201) Homepage Journal
    I am so sick of these posts to Ask /. that can be answered by a Google search! Couldn't you come up with a query that would locate all the philanthropically minded hackers pining to make a contribution to the developing world on their home pages and Web logs? ;-)

    Seriously: I'd be interested! Just like the Peace Corps without the tropical fevers!
    • Re:Google? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:19PM (#4524364)

      Seriously: I'd be interested! Just like the Peace Corps without the tropical fevers!


      No way! I was in the Peace Corps. Those tropical fevers were the best part. :-)

      Seriously, the best parts included:
      • meeting new people and learning about them by living with them.
      • the food! (interestingly enough)
      • being thrown in way over my head and making it.

      Something tells me that these experieces would be diminished if you "phoned it in."

  • Count me in (Score:3, Funny)

    by Shamanin (561998) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:01PM (#4524225)
    I'm totally up for doing volunteer work, as long as it pays well.
  • This program has all the signs of being a typical United Nations money/time rathole. If anyone here has some personal experience with this group, please feel free to correct me.

    Go work on some elderly person's house...do meals on wheels, or best of all start a computer job skills training program with your local government.It's been my experience that I can't save the world, but I can make a huge difference in a small people's lives.
    • Much as it galls me to agree with someone calling themselves "CommieLib"...

      Thes large organizations that try to do charitable work (the UN and the vile, heavy handed United Way), absorb way too many resources, and attach way to much agenda to what they do. If you want to do charitable work, do it at a level where you can see the results of what you do first hand.

      Personally I get enough geeking in at work, so I only do volunteer computer work that is incidental to my other volunteer work, mainly network/PC support for my ambulance squad.
  • Geek Corp (Score:4, Informative)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:04PM (#4524257) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like a concept similar to this. [geekcorps.org]

    • Sounds like a concept similar to this. [geekcorps.org]

      Thanks, I just realized that we have not yet talked with them about co-operation. Will do so. I believe same principles of co-operation could work with them as with UNITeS. If someone from geekcorps is listening, let's see who acts faster :))

  • commitment needed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yerdaddy (93884) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:07PM (#4524279)
    I love this idea but I am a little skeptical.

    I've worked on enough volunteer projects to realize that most volunteers are people that have too much time on their hands. They've just moved to a new city, are between jobs, broke up with their significant other, etc. There is nothing wrong with this other than that all these situations are extremely temporary. As soon as the other parts of their lives start back up, the desire to volunteer disappears.

    This a huge pain for the organization as they have devoted time and resources to orient and train these very short term volunteers.

    Your proposal is even more likely to suffer from this as volunteers who never meet the people they are helping will feel even less obligation to the people them. You need to find some way to secure a time commitment from you volunteers and work very hard to make them feel connected to the work, otherwise the turnover will kill you.
  • Closer to Home (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anzha (138288) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:09PM (#4524294) Homepage Journal

    I donated time to volunteer work at a then local high school - I have since moved - teaching students in project oriented programming competition formerly called the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge [nm.org] (now called the Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge when they rolled it and the Sandia NL sponsored rival program together).

    Students were brogutht ogether in small teams and taught programming, often from the ground up, math, and science towards a project. Often a lot of backfilling took place to get the students up to the point where they could understand the math and science behind the project as well as actually grasp what it would take to write code for the supercomputers. It was very challenging and a lot of fun.

    It has always perplexed me when we have people so constantly complaining about the school system that those that have the time and energy to volunteer do not simply go down to their local school system and volunteer. Make an appointment with the principal and see where you can help. I betcha he or she will be very ecstatic if you can bring ideas and time to the table so long as it does not tax the school resource wise (budgets being tight things...)

    The rewards of seeing a student's face light up when they get it are well worth the time...

  • ...I must wiegh in on the side of posters who have mentioned starting in our own backyard. As a father of two, I am quite concerned, for example, about public schools and technology resources. Even in affluent areas, the resources available are poor, I can only imagine the need in the inner city.

    I have little free time, but would love to donate IT skills to local organizations aimed at improving the education level of our children. Before the obligatory 'check Google' responses, note that I did, but was overwhelmed by the 265,000+ 'hits' no matter how I narrowed my search.

    Ideas like yours are valid. I imagine that far more people would volunteer, if it were simply easier to do so. Being able to volunteer within your own area of interest would draw out even more of these 'closet' volunteers!

    I hope you keep at it.
    • ...I must wiegh in on the side of posters who have mentioned starting in our own backyard. As a father of two, I am quite concerned, for example, about public schools and technology resources. Even in affluent areas, the resources available are poor, I can only imagine the need in the inner city.

      Thanks for the comment! A clip from another thread. "Exactly, schools, universities and other organisations like could also benefit - and we are trying to get them informed. If you know any, please feel free to spread the word. Actually, if you read the 'about openchallenge [openchallenge.org]' page you will find a fairy tale tailored for universities. :)"

      ps. I am also a father of two :)

  • I would (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'd dedicate my time at work! I already spend most of it on Slashdot ;-)
  • by nounderscores (246517) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:13PM (#4524321)
    The good thing about the knowlege industry is that not only can you telecommute. It's the fact that you can share the knowlege and be richer for it.

    Beyond just giving them the source, you've got to make sure that you make every effort to make the recipients of your aid part of the team in the cathedral [tuxedo.org] or at least feeling like they're part of the bazaar.

    There's nothing worse than sending in aid that makes the person wind up with this big shiny thing that they don't have the resources to maintain or expand on.

    So yeah. Clean water first. Food second. No war third. Good medicine, industrial infrastructure, a reliable democratic and open government... and then technology that the developing country can really feel that they own, rather than that they adopted because they found it or someone gave it to them.
    • by glenstar (569572) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:21PM (#4524390)
      There's nothing worse than sending in aid that makes the person wind up with this big shiny thing that they don't have the resources to maintain or expand on.

      *EXACTLY*. Any venture that claims to be of benefit to the "needy" should make sure that it provides the tools and education to empower the community in which they are working; otherwise, you end up with a community that is now *more reliant* on outside sources to work with the technology/software/whatever that you have provided.

      I would liken giving a Zambian village a network of PCs without training them how to use and maintain them to teaching schoolchilren how to read a book, but without teaching them anything about semantics, grammar, etc... in other words, worthless.

  • I would consider donating some free time as long as I DIDN'T have to do it from home.
  • by Pogie (107471) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:19PM (#4524366)

    It seems to me that while potentially useful, your idea of passing out sub-projects from software companies or IT teams in developing nations to a group of open source coders in the Western world doesn't really advance the goal of the UN initiative. As another poster mentioned, there are more serious problems to overcome in many developing nations that make "bridging the digital divide" realtively meaningless. I believe someone else pointed out that what these nations really need isn't code, but IT infrastructure.

    Those are valid points, but I think the fundamental idea of the UN program is to provide technology experts who can not only assist in local projects, but also transfer their expertise through the course of working on those projects. A group of US/UK/GER/FRA/etc coders whipping out brilliant and useful code for sub-projects is certainly helpful, but it doesn't go very far in creating a communal working environment wherein the presumably more experienced techs volunteering can pass their knowledge and experience on to the local techs. Sure, the locals can read your brilliant source code, but they don't get to participate in the development of that code necessarily, and having their questions answered via email is nowhere near as positive a learning environment as working on the code with a real person next to them who can answer their questions and point out interesting tidbits on the fly.

    The real digital divide is knowledge based, and the best way to close that gap is to teach someone how to do it themselves, not tell them to send the hard parts to someone else to do for them.

    Of course that's just my opinion, and I'm probably wrong

  • by tps12 (105590)
    Anyone with the skills to do something like this is going to be a professional programmer. They just don't have the time to work on projects that offer no chance for monetary reward.
    • Not necessarily. There are two ways that monetary reward could come from such a venture: 1) the programmer may be able to learn new tools and skills "on the job" while performing this charity work -- which may equate to more money in the programmer's professional life, or, 2) not all "charity" work is performed pro bono. The venture that I alluded to in my earlier post involves an initial pro bono component, but my firm will be able to reap the rewards of that pro bono work at a later date, while still empowering the community. It's a win-win.
  • Anyone notice that for the last openchallenge there were only two entries in three months [openchallenge.org]? How is this local team going to be able to effectively use their own time when they can't count on the work they have "delegated" abroad being completed? Timing of component completion is essential when implementing a large project.

    • Anyone notice that for the last openchallenge there were only two entries in three months [openchallenge.org]? How is this local team going to be able to effectively use their own time when they can't count on the work they have "delegated" abroad being completed? Timing of component completion is essential when implementing a large project

      Yeah. That's the reality. However, keep in mind that we have not spend any penny in marketing - and actually just started spreading the word. Anyway, since the beginning, the hitrate on the server has been exponential, and I hope that within next 6 months there is already real potential. It will take time, but there is no hurry. If people think it's a good thing, the word will spread. If not, nothing is lost.

  • If you build it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Art Popp (29075) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:25PM (#4524415)
    ...we will come. Free Software is basically a "help your fellow man" kind of project, so it won't be very hard to find volunteers. However, as others have hinted, the real chore will be finding a task that can be solved by software that will benefit people without computers.

    I've helped out with a few foodbanks have always been shocked at how incredibly primitive their distribution systems are. They have to have nearly prohibitive amounts of notice to get the orders for the right amounts of items correctly taken care of up-line. Locally there are no computers involved in this at all. A hand totaled list is read over the phone to a person who plugs it into a spreadsheet. AAAAAAAck! This is a job that screams, "Automate me." The people involved drool at the opportunity to place their orders less than a month in advance and to get rid of the paperwork, but setting up the infrastructure is most of the problem and actually writing the order submission app is pretty easy. In this case and so many others that I can imagine the majority of the work will be done on the scene. But for the fraction that doesn't have to to be done there, start some sourceforge projects and ask for volunteers. You'll find'em.
    • Wow... now I feel *really* bad about tossing out those two 14.4k fax modems I had gathering dust.

      We need a website that will tell me where to mail my still-working surplus computer junk next time.
  • I find that volunteering time on a worthwhile project is very rewarding. The process of reaching out and helping people is beneficial to my own well being. Even though I paid my way, I consider that I got more out of my mission trip to Latvia than I gave. Volunteering locally has also been very rewarding to me. I believe when we give we benefit. That is just the way we are built.
  • I would gladly donate some free "geek" time to a worthy charitable project.
  • by chown (62159)

    I, for one, would be interested in helping out through some volunteer work, as long as I agreed with the bigger picture.

    People have made some good points about putting the needs of a local community ahead of those of the international community, but I've always been of the opinion that no matter who you help, it benefits everyone in the long run.

    What I wouldn't like to do is devote several hours/days/months of my time to a largely useless cause ('We're going to give all the kids in Namibia a web page!'). What sorts of things could one volunteer their time for that we could actually beleive would help those we're volunteering for? Are we talking about automating agriculture or streamlining AIDS testing in african countries? (I'm not sure if either of those makes much sense in this context, but you get the point)

    How about some good, concrete examples? I've often thought about how much I'd like to be able to help out various orginizations by loaning myself to them to write a bit of code or somesuch. Of course there's always handing out soup to the homeless, but I tend to think your average geek has enough know-how and intelligence to do a little more good than just preforming manual labor. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but if some impoverished 3rd world country could actually _benefit_ from me helping out, then hey, I'm all for it.

  • Support a very funny and very revealing ad to conserve oil use [salon.com]. I always thought those terrorism/drug ads were pretty ill-founded, but no one can argue with the terrorism/oil connection. Not too mention that this is very very ironic, considering bush's involvement in both the first ad and the second phenomena. They definately have my money.
  • Found this by following a trail of links:

    NetAid [netaid.org] online volunteering.

    Anyone who has the time and the desire to contribute to development causes; has regular, reliable access to a computer and the Internet; and has skills and experience that would be of value to a volunteer hosting organization is a great candidate for Online Volunteering. Skills could be a programming knowledge, good writing ability, experience in project management, knowledge of another language, expertise in law or education or another profession, or simply the time to offer expert advice or answer email for that organization.
  • If any of you civi-minded geeks need colocation services, the
    California Community Colocation Project [communitycolo.org] provides:

    ...free colocated Internet access to individuals and non-profits. If you represent a not-for-profit endeavor that seeks to have a web presence, an email account, or a rackmount server of your own, we'd love to help....

    ....We currently host several dozen servers in the San Francisco Bay Area, with locations in both Fremont* and San Francisco* connected to the Internet at gigabit speeds: both locations have multiple outbound fiber links for redundancy and excellent physical security, with locked cabinets, commercial-grade UPS-backed power, access control lists, and active environmental control. Our Fremont location* has 24/7 onsite staffing for easy and secure remote reboots and accessibility. We are serving up hundreds of websites, covering everything from Open Source, to current events in Argentina, to streaming MP3 Buddhist teachings, to personal sites, to information about socialism. We host the database backend for the Special Olympics.....



  • I run a blog that talks about running church web sites that they don't suck.

    One of the big issues we're discusssing is backend maintenance.

    Yes, I'm all for us volunteering our time. That said, we need to make sure we implement systems and solutions that won't leave staff or other volunteers frustrated and/or in worse shape when we move on.

    A good example is setting up a church web site. A geek comes along. Makes it look and feel great. A year passes. The geek is gone and now the organization is left there scratching their head trying to figure out how to modify things without breaking them.

    In other words. Let's volunteer. But lets not make this like the one time we worked in a soup kitchen so we could feel better about ourselves. Instead, lets provide permanent, long term solutions.
  • When it comes to taxes Time=Money works only one way.
  • ...But what about the organizations in the US-- Non-profits, schools, etc.-- that don't have enough money/know-how to set up a decent system.

    Others have mentioned that there are groups in the US that need help, and ways to help the local services. At least in California, there are a few groups that do this. One that I'm affiliated with [calteg.org] has provided web space (low/no cost web space), on site technical support, and various small projects for a group of non profit organizations.

    It is very interesting looking at this stuff-- there are literally no companies that will offer low/no cost tech support even as donations, to local non profits-- the ones that need it the most.

    Get involved with the local groups. Any skills you have are really appreciated, and even if you don't want to or can't be there to help them, if you run a server, set up a little web site for them! Give them an account to get mail, and a hundred megs to put as big a site as they want on it, and it doesn't cost you anything but electricity which you would use anyway-- Usually they pull less than a few thousand hits per month /ex
    • ...But what about the organizations in the US-- Non-profits, schools, etc.-- that don't have enough money/know-how to set up a decent system.

      Exactly. Organisations like this is another group we will try to get informed. If you know any that might benefit from openchallenge [openchallenge.org] - please spread the word. For schools, fairy tale written in 'about openchallenge' [openchallenge.org] might provide some hints on how to utilize it.

  • I'm doing some work with an African country right now at work. Half the problem is they don't know what they want - so asking them what they think they want and then trying to build it is a bit of a challenge. We try to nail things down, but they just aren't sure and so you end up with issues of requirements/scope creep. You also end up with differing perspectives and a need to regularly reset expectations. Defining requirements and managing the projects may be a pretty serious challenge for some of the developing countries.

    In fact, project management and business analysis skills may be a *key* donation to such an effort. Skilled business analysts, workflow experts, and project management people (esp those familiar with OS projects) would be a real asset to any such plan and should be figured into the mechanism. Correctly setting expectations would be an important part of successful and satisfactory development. This won't be a for-pay effort and it will be a distributed effort. Both invoke certain characteristics and limitations.

    I have been looking for just these kinds of local or Int'l IT projects, insofar as I would be permitted by NDA's etc. to participate. I think this would be a worthwhile endeavour for the UN and the Open Source community. And it would leverage some of the powers of some open source OSs which run well on some older hardware, as much of the developing world may not be able to afford the latest 3.4GHz P-4 megasystem.

    If this does go anywhere, I hope slashdot will provide ongoing coverage.
  • Thanks for the quality comments, criticism, ideas and flames. There really was a lot of useful input and pointers. It will help me a great deal when appoaching UNITeS and other organisations. I will also steal your input to build a FAQ later on :))

    Thanks for helping!

  • My question is: would you for example consider donating some hours to help a goodwill project - if you could do that from home. This is of interest to me, as I would like to be sure that the time we put into building co-operating with a big organization like UNITeS and others in the future is not wasted.

    Based on the feedback, Yes - I will use time to proceed with the proposal to UNITeS. Also, there was a lot of feedback which helps me in this work. Also, I now know more about the weak points of this approach and can start thinking for answers to them. So, final thank you to all of you who used some brain cycles on thinking. I hope you will hear some good news regarding this co-operation within a couple of months. Thanks!

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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