Internet-in-a-Box

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Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) is an effort to provide Wikipedia and other content via physical media. It is intended for distribution in places where access to the Internet is limited or controlled. The device includes software which creates a Wi-Fi hotspot that offers closed platform access.

In practice, this means that up to 32 users who are within a couple of hundred meters of the hotspot can connect to the device and access or download its content: Wikipedia slices, medical knowledge, videos and books. IIAB is not intended to further connect users to the Internet or to content, beyond what is presented in the Box itself.

⇒ What it looks like (beta)

⇒ How to buy one

⇒ How to build one

Uses since 2012[edit]

Bridging the digital divide in Latin America

Cuba: A needs assessment was made in 2016, by medical students at Columbia University.

Dominican Republic Following an initial needs assessment performed in the Dominican Republic in March 2017 a pilot study was performed in conjunction with the local health ministry. Ten devices were distributed and feedback was obtained on a weekly basis over the course of one month. At this point 10 devices remain in country for a more extensive pilot study.

Guatemala A needs assessment was performed in Guatemala from July 23rd 2017 to August 6th 2017 involving several key stakeholders including health ministry officials, medical schools and local Non-governmental Organizations. Currently two devices remain in the country with local partners and a more extensive pilot study is being planned.

Peru A needs assessment in Peru started in 2017.

Greece (Syrian refugee camp) In later half of 2017. One device has been left in the country.

Jordan: In later half of 2017. Two devices has been left in the country.

Project outline[edit]

Content[edit]

IIAB front page, Nicaragua edition, 2016

Disk images that can be flashed onto the storage cards will be created as image files. Versions to fit 16 Gb, 32 Gb, and 64 Gb are being created.

They are a basic starting point that local deployments can add to once they received the boxes.

We will later allow customization of such lists, and add the ability to donate more modules for this use.

A memorandum of understand (draft) will be required for content not under an open license (Note NC and ND licenses are not open).

Hardware[edit]

As of 2017, the Raspberry Pi hardware is being used.

Software[edit]

The devices run Raspbian. It functions as a webserver.

Community partners[edit]

The Internet-in-a-Box project collaborates well with activist communities in the following spaces:

  • Wikimedia content development
  • Mesh networking
  • any small, in-person educational center with any of the following characteristics:
    • lacks sufficient Internet access to Wikimedia content
    • has Internet access, but wants to provide fast/quality multimedia or a closed platform for clinics, schools, prisons, etc

Inventory[edit]

Legal stuff[edit]

History[edit]

An older version of offline Wikimedia content and a WiFi transmitter.

The term "Internet in a Box", in the sense of a curated collection of offline web content, was coined by Braddock Gaskill in circa 2012 as the name of an organization and project, a name he later registered as a trademark. Braddock's vision was to aggregate the most used and most important internet content from an educational point of view into an inexpensive server from which it could be accessed over a local network with no connection to the wider internet. This offering was aimed principally a schools. He distributed such a device for some time and also made available a portable hard disk drive with just the content, which included the Wikipedia in 40 languages, Khan Academy videos, Open Street Maps, 40,000 Project Gutenberg files, and other items.

The project was successful, and Braddock allowed others to take it over, principally a group of volunteers working on XSCE, a server that grew out of the the One Laptop Per Child project. OLPC's focus was laptops, but it also offered server software branded XS. Over time XS Community Edition adopted the name Internet in a Box and extended it to more platforms and normalized some of the content, especially shifting the Wikipedia and other Wikimedia content to use the Kiwix server.

Backdrop[edit]

Wikipedia was established in 2001.

Since 2002 it has been possible to download the entirety of Wikipedia following instructions at en:Wikipedia:Database download and elsewhere. It has always been a priority to encourage the download of Wikimedia content for mirroring, republishing, and remixing elsewhere.

In 2003, volunteers organized to curate Wikimedia content to be available for offline viewing. en:Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team was established to curate content for distribution on CDs. The project as originally imagined probably reached its peak of active development in 2008 and ended with its last major update in 2011. Although distribution on CDs is not remembered as having lasting impact, Wikipedia 1.0 project was influential in establishing community customs which remain in Wikimedia projects. Those customs include using WikiProjects for community organization, ranking articles by importance, grading content for quality, and rallying volunteers to discuss as a community the prioritization content development. In 2006, another project tried to distribute Wikipedia on CDs.

Since 2006 a software project called Kiwix has been in development for making offline copies of Wikipedia easy for people to use. Although Wikimedia content is technically available for download, without an easy to use reader, typical people cannot use offline information in the same way as they browse the online content. Kiwix has been the market leader in offline browsing products.

Between 2006 and 2010-2013, the One Laptop Per Child project developed hardware and software to produce laptop computers for educational use, at a price point of around USD $200. 2.4M laptops were distributed: primarily to rural and suburban parts of Rwanda, Peru, and Uruguay. A smaller % of the project reached another 30 countries. OLPC also produced the Sugar Desktop environment, which could be run on Linux and later Android operating systems. Each of those laptops and OS images came with some Wikimedia content: mainly Wikipedia snapshots in a few languages. The project is active today as spin-off groups of voluneer developers and curators, pursuing parts of the initial concept.

In 2009 the WikiReader project sought to produce a low cost device that would present the text of Wikipedia. The device was manufactured and sold. The source of the software is available online. In 2014 they stopped production.

Press coverage[edit]

Meetings[edit]

Discussion[edit]

Related projects[edit]

People involved[edit]

Websites[edit]

External links[edit]