notes from the field - Mongolia

Deniz Kural denizkural at
Thu Oct 9 20:10:57 EDT 2008

This whole "why would you need a USB in mongolia?"  conversation shows how
out of touch some people on this list are with the people the project is
trying to reach.

People live miles and miles away from one another (in Mongolia), and it is
entirely normal to travel to your friends yurt or yer or house with a horse
and want to plug in your USB stick -- especially if your mesh isn't
connecting due to the distance and you don't have internet because a) no one
in your family has a computer b) your house keeps moving around c) it'd be
too costly.

Also, assuming people want to be able transfer files/objects/things between
mac, *nix, windows etc and assuming the lack of a reliable network it makes
perfect sense. Even if all the computers you want to do transfers between
have wifi, you can't expect a kid to set it up / get the mesh working / get
homenetworking working... it is just easier to use a USB stick.

Case: I am a teacher, I wrote some things on my old second hand desktop PC
at home. I don't have internet at home, because I don't get paid enough as a
teacher and my house doesn't have landlines and  wimax isn't there yet. I
want to give my students this thing I wrote, next morning in class so they
can follow my lecture etc. more clearly or go do reading at home.

Hence, student, or teacher, I need a USB stick.


p.s. Mikus I hope this helps with your question: "I'm trying to think of why
a kid would want to save files to a USB key." and provides a counterpoint

"I think that "objects" (e.g., 'files') ought to be transported between
systems via network connections, rather than via USB "sneakernet"."

What do you do in Mongolia when people move around after herds, half the
houses in the capital are yurts/yers, and there are no reliable network
connections? Your "ought" is simply not possible.

p.p.s Marco, you're a stuck-up asshole :)

On Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 7:21 PM, Bastien <bastienguerry at>wrote:

> Mikus Grinbergs <mikus at> writes:
> >> Tagging isn't as much of an issue as being able to save files
> >> to a USB key easily.
> >
> > I'm trying to think of why a kid would want to save files to a USB
> > key.  Normally, except for off-loading objects to a school
> > repository (a process about which I know nothing), 'files' would be
> > kept at the XO itself, and not on removable storage devices.
> Maybe we should not only think in terms of purposes, but also in terms
> of causes: what makes children want to save files to USB stick?
> What I've seen is that children wants to save to a USB stick because
> they are told so by teachers, and teachers wants to save to a USB stick
> because they often lost files and are afraid of losing more...
> (I've not seen a school server in action, so I cannot discuss whether
> saving to a USB looks safer for teachers/children than saving to a USB
> stick.)
> --
> Bastien
> _______________________________________________
> Devel mailing list
> Devel at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Devel mailing list