Jeff Brown's blog

Doctor Daniel Mashao, the chief technology officer at Sita (the South African State Information Technology Agency), announced the launch of the government-wide free and open source programme at the GovTech conference on Thursday.

While many welcomed the February announcement of government's intention to adopt and promote open source software, the subsequent months saw disillusionment within the open source community that very little had actually happened.

Mashao addressed these worries, describing what had been happening behind the scenes and showing a systematic timetable of how this process will indeed be implemented.

Mr M. slapped a pupil in the face at the assembly before close of school yesterday.

I don't know what the kid did to deserve that treatment - but corporal punishment is against the law in this country. And what he did more-or-less constitutes assault, anyway. To the same extent I was assaulted by police in the charge office last year.

He wouldn't have realized that I was watching... while setting up email for a couple of students on the side of the classroom facing the courtyard.

It brings back all sorts of bad memories and I will confront him. He's the authoritarian despot I thought I'd have a problem with. "Yes Teacher!"

Maybe I'm being a bit dumb... but I don't see the point of registering here:

"How to use the site

Registration is Mandatory Visitor : Create a logon for yourself and browse through the site. Contributor :You can edit existing categories only (this is to prevent duplication and to ensure that the layout for certain main categories remains the same) Creator :You can create additional categories, edit and delete (this membership is at the discretion of Eduwiki)

This is the start of a plan to collate and 'digitalize' comic content for the OLPC XOs and for the primary education sector in general.

A lot of NGOs have created comics on everything from Aids Awareness to alternative technologies.

I would like to get information about NGOs and organisations which have comics which can be licensed under Creative Commons . . . and solicit contributions of any comic material available... Perhaps there's already something like this underway somewhere?

From here this project will move to the wiki on

The Shift Thank Tank happened in April already - but these were some things I picked up around this area that were interesting. To me.

"In the midst of conflict and suffering, humankind is laying the foundation for a planetary civilization. The foundation is made of our stories about the world, the narrative of existence -- and when we feel especially confident about it, we like to call it knowledge. We share a responsibility to ensure that the foundation is stable, that it can be built upon forever, that it is owned by all of us. I am confident that we can achieve this together, and am looking forward to meeting you. -- Peace & Love, Erik"

Interesting stuff from:

- South African state owned telecoms operator InfraCo has appointed Mark Shuttleworth to its board.

- In South Africa, the Department of Communications is demanding that the international owners of Seacom, the US$500 million undersea fibreoptic cable project intended to link South Africa with Europe and Asia, sell equity to local companies before it can operate locally. -Balancing Act

- According to the Ethiopan paper the Daily Mirror, Cisco, was set to provide faster broadband services, free of charge, as part of efforts to curb and ameliorate the "broadband" internet connection service currently rendered by the Ethiopian telecommunication Corporation (ETC).

This morning there was a pair of humpbacks mating just off Dangerpoint. It's a really beautiful day. Daniel and Michele are coming to visit for the weekend.

From last week:
This morning's walk to the Hole we encountered a malachite kingfisher and then watched a huge heron, almost hovering as he comes in so slowly, right onto "the stall", to land on a frail tipmost branch of a milkwood. He's about 40m from Chris and me, on the other side of the river; as we watch, he balances precariously and then offsets his weight in anticipation to compensate for a vigorous shake of his head. He almost falls off his perch - several times - but maintains his balance and dignity somehow. A couple of boys walk past on the other side of the river and create a perfect symmetry.

My rising sense of panic is founded on painful experience of human nature within the South African (specifically the Transkeian) context. Unfortunately the sense of urgency does nothing for my coherency or effectivity... and just appears to make me seem irrational. Too bad. I have a point.

I grew up in the Transkei, and even have (somewhere) one of the 300mm shells from the 21 gun salute on the day of independence.

People who say that the Transkei was just another bantustan really don't know much about their history: it is the cultural melting pot of the Xhosa speaking Hlubi people - and is at an intersection point of immense import - both geographically and historically.

It's not difficult to see the reasons for the failure of macro economic, consultant, committee, and project damagement driven Spatial Development "exercises". Management.

Lack of management, over-management, bad management, even /good/ management. The problem is - that was all there was... No committment. No personal stake... No entrepreneurial risks... But lots and lots of management at iniquitously disproportional rates to the bottom-end menial workers. And not just the fulltime management either, hell no. How do you think they managed to blow R85 million in five years and have nothing to show for it except a bad working model for future community based tourism developments, and a static website that the tourism industry - which it was supposed to promote - had to pay subscription fees to be listed in?!

Countries that have committed to OLPC so far:

Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Tunisia, United States of America (specifically the states of Massachusetts and Maine), Uruguay

Paul Kagame, Rwanda's president, said the initiative would strengthen the quality of already existing free and compulsory primary education, by adopting new tools for learning and engaging children more directly, both inside and outside of school.

Higher mental functions are, by definition, culturally mediated. They involve not a direct action on the world but an indirect one, one that takes a bit of material matter used previously and incorporates it as an aspect of action. Insofar as that matter itself has been shaped by prior human practice (eg it is an artefact), current action incorporates the mental work that produced the particular form of that matter. (Cole and Wertsch, 1996, p252)

"It's interesting to observe the construction process of the wide community of intellectual publishers: liberal quoting of each other's ideas, combining, arguing, extending and recombining them in order to construct our social and cultural understanding of thought, understanding and ultimately human nature."

I started teaching computers to Grades 7 - 9 at the school here this week - and it's very interesting. My plan was to focus heavily on Tux-Typing initially, but we ran into a bottleneck on the server's network card (100mb) so I had to improvise, and get people doing different things. It was difficult because the several teachers on-hand to oversee and assist were quite obstructive and intent on following a 1 teacher to many pupils type methodology.

Eventually we had a little meeting and I explained that the objective was to allow the children to learn to use the mouse and keyboard naturally - by exploring different games and drawing activities - and to my surprise I got 100% agreement and cooperation... although I suspect I have a problem with at least one teacher...

There was a meeting about the Coffee Bay / Hole in the Wall Spatial Development Framework yesterday in Coffee Bay. It's scary stuff. Please people, be ready to contribute thought and energy into how development should (and shouldn't) happen.

"The Wild Coast SDF (Spatial Development Framework):
* Coffee Bay is currently a 'first order node' it is seen to be a future town
* Hole in the Wall is identified as a second order node
* Maphuzi is proposed as a 'nature tourism area'

Bob Marley

XR live in Amsterdam.

This is a must read:

by Peet du Plooy

Mail & Guardian Online

24 November 2006 01:59

South Africa is energy inefficient because we don’t value our carbon resource sufficiently.

There are a number of perspectives that, together, make up the picture. One perspective deals with process efficiency -- a technological issue -- another with the structure of the economy -- how much of our economy is fundamentally energy-hungry.

Either way, improving energy efficiency will largely rely on energy becoming more expensive. It will allow us to improve our supply-side and demand-side technology, but also encourage us to shift our economy away from energy-intensive industries.

That should be LLLDC, perhaps: Land Locked Least Developed Countries

(I know I know . . . . 1 word)

UN Profile: Ethiopia

I'm struck by the fear that South Africa is following the same path from fierce tribalism to ruthless dogmatism. That shit don't work.

I've been meaning to post this link for ages:

The top story is Russell Southwood's interview with Antoine.

Balancing Act back issue 359

I seem to have stopped getting Balancing Act's weekly newsletter. I'm not sure if it's because I've been playing fast and loose with their articles^W intellectual property on my blog - or what - but it's a pity because it's about the only news I'm interested in. I didn't ask for permission - but that's because nobody reads my blog and it's just for my own interest, really.

Interesting day. Meeting Paul and Sarah Colvin by chance at the river - with their cyclers - as they were on their way through from Kei Mouth to Port St Johns. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. What a cool job!

And then meeting Ron from eKhayaICT. . . Good to meet you Ron.

Finding a 554 Delivery Status Notification with regard to a message to Sean - that bounced because of his ISP's over zealous spam scoring - in my spam box on gmail.

Then spending about 2 hours on the phone with Mark - while cooking dinner - and finally getting the pictures of the devastating vandalism at the solar / wind farm near Hluleka.
My department through SANRAL will continue with its Public Private Partnership concession programme. It is currently developing projects such as the N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway between Durban and East London. The Wild Coast was identified as one of the areas for strategic development in accordance with government’s Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) strategy as long ago as 1995.

It will not only give access to the untapped potential of the Pondoland but in so doing address the primary inequality, namely lack of access that has led to this being the most impoverished region of South Africa. We expect to see the construction of this important road starting before the end of the year."

no comment

By Deon Van Der Merwe East London Correspondent

THE circumstances under which South Africa‘s top international off-road motorcycle racing ace, Alfie Cox, was arrested at the weekend, allegedly at gunpoint, are being investigated by the provincial environmental affairs department.

Cox, a registered tour operator who has brought small groups of foreign off-road enthusiasts to the Wild Coast for the past 10 years, was slapped with a R10 000 spot fine, which he paid to avoid spending the weekend in police custody and having his motorcycles confiscated.

He was leading a group of Australian and New Zealand airline pilots on a ride out of Hole-in-the-Wall on Saturday when he allegedly led his clients into a vehicle-restricted area.

"it is incumbent upon Traditional Leadership to seek to purge the institution of all illegitimacy by being prepared to commit class suicide when the audit of Traditional Leadership takes place."


Honourable Chairperson - Chief M. Nonkonyana
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the House
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us. ~ Henrik Tikkanen

You say "To break through, one needs to set up a positive spiral, taking small steps to improve conditions so that people involved feel and are in control. But external help is definitely required for the first steps."

I agree with this whole heartedly. The only way to drive technological assimilation into a rural culture is to have volunteers on hand to provide expert help as well as ideological vision. I'd even go a step further to say that the volunteer program needs to be extended for as long as a full generation. At least. To provide ongoing skills transfer and cosmopolitan role models, as far as possible.

Clivia robusta (Amaryllidaceae) is a tubular, pendulous-flowered Clivia species, restricted to the Pondoland Centre of Endemism, South Africa. The unique morphology, distribution, karyotype and molecular fingerprint distinguish it from all other pendulous-flowered species in the genus. Distribution This taxon is endemic to the Pondoland Centre of endemism, with a distribution from Port St. Johns in the south to the Mzimkulu River in the north. Habitat Restricted to Msikaba Formation sandstone, the habitat is characterised by rugged plateaus (100-500 m above sea level) that are deeply dissected by narrow river gorges, within which occur isolated forest patches, containing mixed tropical and Afromontane elements. Mean annual rainfall varies from 1 000-1 200 mm and occurs mainly in the summer months. The mean annual temperature along the coast is around 20°C. The soils are usually sandy, acidic, highly leached and often shallow .

Plans are currently underway to create a new "kid's only" Creative Commons (CC) license, as well as to incorporate CC reading and writing capabilities directly into the machines. iCommons are working with The Shuttleworth Foundation (TSF) on a new initiative called the iCommons iCurriculum which is currently being discussed online ( and the outcome of this discussion should yield an exciting new perspective on open curriculum and benefit education.

Source: HANA

UN takes a byte to save Africa from e-waste
By: David Kezio-Musoke
Highway Africa News Agency

The United Nations has called for policies to protect African nations from unregulated imports of electronic wastes (e-waste) that release heavy metals and chemicals.

This call comes after the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that over 50 million metric tonnes of electronic e-waste are produced globally, much of which finds its way to the African continent as charitable donations.

At the 8th meeting of the Basel Convention conference, which comes up this week in Nairobi the capital of Kenya is to discuss digital dumping. African governments are urged to adopt a framework to tighten shipments and disposal of all kinds of electronic wastes.

Does electronic learning (eLearning) threaten to displace the teacher? This question emerged at an international conference held in Nairobi last week, attended by 1,400 people from 88 countries. The latest in information communication technology (ICT) with a focus on education, training and development was showcased.

eLearning makes use of computers, radio or television in addition to books and classes. It ranges from single users to group learning in class. Students are able to talk on-line and exchange ideas. It is participatory and allows the sharing of learning material between networked users.