We are researching rural Guatemala, looking for ways to combine indigenous skills with the capabilities Server Sky can provide.
While politics are important, our skills are technological, and we hope to directly empower individuals and provide them with interaction tools, locally and globally. If those individuals choose to use their power for national politics, economic global integration or independence, or merely to improve their local neighborhood, that is their choice to make. At best, we can help them develop tools that will help them make those choices wisely.
Here is some of what Keith is reading.
Empires and Autonomy
2007 essay collection
I did not read much of this book - the chapter about Guatemala is focused on similarities to Vietnam, and the US military/political interventions in both countries. That might be useful for assigning blame, or maintaining certain ideologies, but tells me very little about what individual Guatemalan lives are like, or what capabilities they might want.
Chapter 8, "Freedom of the Ether or the Electromagnetic Commons? Globality, the Public Interest, and the Multilateral Radio Negotiations of the 1920s" by Danial Gorman, is helpful. Similar considerations will apply to Server Sky. Every country had its own agenda, and there were conflicts over the uses of limited frequency bands. The main difference was whether bands were assigned functions at the national or international level, and the result was international assignments for international problems (ocean and air traffic, navigation, emergency servces) while local content followed national rules. In the 1930s (pg 153) European powers routinely jammed each other's broadcasts, punitively, even though this was forbidden by International Radiotelegraph Conference rules they had agreed to. After World War II, nations eventually abided by their agreements. The last two pages briefly concern the internet, and ICANN, the American non-profit company that regulates the global internet address space. The author does not mention non-profits like the IEEE, IETF, ANSI, and countless other non-profits that set standards for rapidly changing industries. Organizations like the International Telecommunications Union (the successor to the IRC) play a critical role, arbitrating global rules in light of competing international interests, whereas the task of ICANN is mechanically allocating numbers and names within the rules set by the IETF and the the technological constraints set by the two specific technologies (IPv4 and IPv6) that they address. Server-sky may fit into IPv6, but will probably operate in a different namespace, focused on the geometry of orbital internet provision, rather than switch-to-switch routing.
Chase this quote, from page 155:
A more radical interpretation, known as the "Bogsch Theory" after its proponent Arpad Bogsch, the former head of the World Intellectual Property Organization, stesses the autonomoy of both satellite broadcaster and receptor and holds that the legislation of all receptor countries should be applice to satellite broadcasting cumulatively, citing:
Dillenz, Walter: "Broadcasting and Copyright." Paper presented at the Regional Forum on the Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Law of International Property for Asia and the Pacific," Seoul, Korea, 30 August-1 September 1989. WIPO Publication 681 (E), 1990, WIPO Archives, Geneva, E2319F630 WIPO.R.
I can't find that paper, but there are lots of webhits for Bogsch Theory, which seems to be keeping the lawyers busy.
God And Production in a Guatemalan Town
Sheldon Annis, 1987
Guatemala has been through a few more bloodbaths since this was written. The book focuses on a microcosm, the town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, a few kilometers southwest of Antigua. It dives down into the economic details of survival in these areas. Catholics struggle to produce an economic surplus with milpa (multicropped cornfields) that is spent on cofradias, small fraternal organizations that sponsor saint days and the festivals (and drinking) that goes on at them. Protestants are more atomized, avoiding drink and consumption, saving their money to start businesses. Newly converted Protestants are often among the poorest, but by living meager lives and saving, some become prosperous in time. These small Protestant groups are often supported by missionaries and churches from the United States.
Catholic production for basic nutrition generates less cash sales, but is more reliable in troubled times. Protestant production of market crops generates more cash, but is risky and could lead to starvation in troubled times - unless there is a trustworthy US church to bail people out.
All that said, I am more interested in the depictions of farming and weaving for external production. Can these skills be transferred through the internet? Can computation develop better crops, perhaps highly varied cultivars that produce basic nutrition with less land and water, but without pest-vulnerable monocropping? The depiction of weaving is more interesting - "using your fingers to make flat patterns in front of you" is what I am doing with a computer right now, using a brain and eyes little different from the women weaving beautiful huipil (wee-pill) clothing. They get paid pennies per day, I can get paid thousand of dollars a day for my patterns. So what if their grid-and-fiber based thinking could be transformed by software "compilers" into lucrative computational objects? The weavers do their jobs with more meticulousness and care than most programmers do. How can they produce more and get paid more for their rigorous attention?
Culture and Customs of Guatemala
Maureen E. Shea 2001
It is probably impossible to write a book about Guatemala without writing about massacre and poverty. A lot of that in this book too. Useful factoids:
- 55 to 60% Maya, the only country in Central America that is still largely Indian, second only to Bolivia
- the most populated country in central America
This book focuses on "categories", not much on individuals. Lots of information on religion, myths, literature, music, culture. It might be worth revisiting to develop cultural exports.
Crisis of Governance in Maya Guatemala
John P. Hawkins, James H. McDonald, Walter Randolph Adams, editors, 2013
acre = 0.4047 hectare
vara "some 33 inches"
cuerda(1) = 40x40 vara = 0.112 hectare
caballeria = 190/1.7 acre = 45.2 hectare
cuerda(2) = 25x25 vara = 0.0439 hectare
cuerda(2) = 4700 sq ft = 0.0437 hectare
1000 quetzales = 125 dollars = cuerda
farm = 5 cuerda = 0.22 hectare = 0.542 acre
The book focuses on three K'iche' municipios: Nahualá( Nawa'la, pop 50K ), Santa Catarina Ixahuacan ( ), mostly relocated to Nueva Santa Catarina Ixahuacan after Hurricane Mitch. Nahualá is on CA-1, the Guatemalan segment of the Pan American Highway, 200 km west of Guatemala City, 85 km east of Quetzaltenango.
Seven chapters, written by Brigham Young University undergraduates doing fieldwork in 2005-2006, 10 years after the 1996 internationally-arranged peace accords. The prose is a bit redundant and thin, but gives a feeling for the area through the eyes of young Mormon students (who are anthropologically interesting themselves). The major theme is change: replacing old governmental structures with new, increased education, increased agricultural density, elders not getting expected obedience, young people with wider horizons. This is an 9 year old snapshot in time, change has continued, perhaps accelerated.
Ch1: The System Changed To Voting: Mayors used to be unpaid and selected by the elders, who were acknowledged for their contributions to the community. Now mayors are elected from a slate of 5 to 18 national political parties, candidates chosen by the bosses in Guatemala City, with pluralities of 30%, which means that 70% of the voters oppose them from the start. The mayors are now judicially powerless, and funded (inadequately) by the national government. Since they cannot provide either peace or plenty, they are hated, and sometimes chased out of town.
- Server Sky possibilities: more information about candidates, audio and visual. Locals can create content, record debates, etc.
Ch2: Saved From Being Lynched: With much social upheaval, violent intervillage conflict, impotent alcaldes, and tiny police garrisons, mob rule brought lynchings in 1997. The community developed new punishments, kneeling on rocks for hours while being humiliated in front of a crowd. Which is clever and effective, though nonconformity is punished, not just crimes with victims.
- Server Sky possibilities: more opportunities for noncomformists to leave, international oversight (by invitation).
Ch3: Land Divided without Clear Titles: The region is crowded with tiny Milpa farms, Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan and Nahualá compete for land. Land used to be communal, with families tilling customary spots established in group memory, now it is becoming privately owned, though inadequately surveyed and demarcated. Arguments about who owns what are heated, especially between the two big villages.
- SS possibilities: Virtual demarcation on frequently updated aerial views.
Ch4: "Decentralization" of Forest Management Forests were customarily managed communally. They are now ruled by the Instituto Nacional de Bosques, INAB in capital, with local forestry offices sporadically enforcing the top down rules. So trees are illegally cut without punishment, but campesinos collecting deadfall firewood are restricted. If the locals were educated rather than regulated, they could merge ancient practices with modern science (true decentralization).
- SS possibilities: Keep track of the forests, and who does what to them. Provide local forums to develop local solutions.
Ch5: Barriers to the Empowerment of Midwives: Traditional midwives provided coaching, external forces push to professionalize midwives into paramedics to reduce death rates. Training and representation is in Spanish, not K'ichi', disempowering most midwives.
- SS possibilities: Video training and networking in K'iche', Spanish training. Connections to the large Spanish-speaking Phillipine nursing community would provide training and mutual support.
Ch6: Gangs, Community Politics, and Space: and
Ch7: Youth Power in Nahualá: Maras in Nahualá are surrogate families for young men without parents. Many expressions of youth culture are confused in with maras, criminal activity, and Mexican/Columbian drug lord activity. Some violent gangs prey on communities, but elders treat youth disrespect, Rok-Maya music, and even church-sponsored boys and girls clubs as gang activity. The phrase "sushi and tortillas" expresses the culture-mixing desires of the youth, proud of their heritage and connected to the world.
- SS possibilities: Help the elders record their culture and wisdom for the distant future. They will not be passing it on directly through their own children. Their children are working diligently to combine the best of ancient and modern, and if outsiders provide a source of respect for the young, perhaps they will not unwisely demand it of their parents and grandparents.
I read this book looking for Server Sky opportunities, after reading 20yo and 30yo books about rural Guatemala during the conflicts and earlier social changes. Those old problems have been replaced. When server sky connects to this region, perhaps a decade from now, the problems will be different. Rather than offering specific solutions to unimagined future needs (the major problem with the 1996 peace accords) we should provide a platform for future innovation, biased to avoid the abuses we can identify now, but not prescribing solutions. The educated young will be the elders when this happens, and their more-educated and more-cosmopolitan children will be the innovators.
The book is laden with neologisms and theories of Michel Foucault. Neologisms can be grating and exclusionary. Something to guard against when writing about server sky.