CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina, March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Although there are more donkeys than vehicles on Lamu Island off the coast of Kenya, and no Internet, the residents have access to Wikipedia and millions of other documents, thanks to a pioneering worldwide project.
Library Prof. Cliff Missen carried the book-sized "Internet in a Box" by car, plane and wooden boat to Lamu, provided training in an old stone fort and installed it at the library.
Missen's nonprofit WiderNet campaign, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., has installed the plug-and-play offline learning system (either in a computer tower or a passport drive) in 1,000 schools, colleges and agencies around the globe.
For the next phase, he created the "Pocket Library" on a fingernail-sized chip to bring customized information to potentially millions of students, teachers and officials in developing nations.
"We'll make it easier for librarians, educators, and volunteers around the world to organize information into small, portable chip-size collections that can be copied to someone's flash drive or laptop, tablet, or smart phone," said Missen, from the University of North Carolina library school.
"We could possibly see whole societies revolutionized by communication technologies that will transform their information and power structures seemingly overnight."
Carolyn Carter, of the United Methodist Church of Nigeria, said, "This made our teachers realize how much information is out there and how it can be used to expose students to a whole new world."
Missen began the project in 2001 after seeing the Internet deficiencies while studying in Nigeria.
eGranary is installed in 1,000 schools, clinics, and universities in 48 nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, as well as 10 US prisons and jails.
Some 32 million resources are in four terabyte, portable hard disks with a USB connection or in special computer towers. The files include Wikipedia, the Gutenberg Project, the Khan Academy, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and MIT's OpenCourseware.
Over the next three years, experts will customize collections to fit on thumbnail-sized chips ranging up to 64 gigabytes. A recent project to put Ebola information onto chips for East Africa proved the idea works.
To scale up, the project set a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo on Thursday, March 19.
Information: Richard Chady 919-200-3585 firstname.lastname@example.org