It Takes a Village to Raise a Framework

Nick Wynja

Our Chief Technologist, Nick Wynja

I want to tell you this story because sometimes you don’t know how you can help until you ask:

For the last couple of years, I’ve worked at a tech startup as well as doing hobby projects around technology. In that time, I helped lead a team to get a well designed product off the ground and I learned how to code and admin servers. I started writing to explore ideas and began sharing them here. Eventually a few people started to noticed the things I was making.

A few weeks ago, I joined a team which gives me a chance to apply some of the things I’ve been learning to new areas and with more resources. But I’ve also had a feeling that I could be putting what I’ve been learning to use somewhere beyond my job or this website.

I’ve been thinking… Can I use these skills and connections—the things I’ve been building for a couple of years—to help people more directly?

Village Science

My introduction to Village Science was kind of happenstance if you look at it one way and, yet, completely inevitable at the same time.

I met Justin Lancy (who you may know as @Veritrope) for the first time last year. After following each other online for a while, we both realized we lived in New York and should probably meet up for a drink. We ended up having more than a few and became good friends just before he and his wife moved from Brooklyn to Southeast Asia.

Justin had been working as a consultant in New York for over a decade and traveling quite a bit. On a trip to Laos in 2010, he and his wife met a former satellite engineer who was starting an educational Non-Profit called Village Science. Village Science started raising money for projects and Justin eventually joined the Board. When I met Justin, he and his wife had decided to go back to Laos and spend some time helping the organization with a new project.

A few months after he left, I sent Justin an email asking about some of his experiences. I was curious about how technology was being used in the communities he was visiting and I had been thinking that maybe some new platforms like the inexpensive Raspberry Pi could be helpful in developing countries. I wondered if he had seen this type of technology being put to use at all.

I guess because of the timing and whatever the opposite of coincidence is, in his reply Justin told me that he laughed out loud when he got my email. As it happened, Village Science had been planning a Raspberry Pi Project for the Developing World. He thought I should get involved if I was interested.

Village Science is a chance for me to use my talents and curiosity to help in a direct way. So now, when I’m not working at my day job, I serve as the Chief Technology Officer for Village Science.

Hello World

We’ve been quietly working on prototypes of an inexpensive, low-powered computer system based on the Raspberry Pi to be used in developing countries as an educational platform and for communication. We’ve also been building a specially-tuned framework to update and extend these devices in some truly amazing ways.

We’re starting simple with VS-Pi but, even still, there’s more problems to solve than we can tackle on our own. I need help. I need a team that’s going to help Village Science get this pilot project–which has a lot of traction and even more potential–off the ground.

Right now, I need people like you and me–with some engineering skills, a desire to help, and a little bit of time they can give.

People like:

  • PHP developers familiar with WordPress template and plugin architecture;
  • Front-end developers who know responsive layouts;
  • People good with Python that can help with service-type scripting;
  • Systems people who can help me architect content distribution systems;

Is that you? Have some other skills that you think might help? Please email me. We can use help with practically anything, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re curious about what Village Science is doing or wondering how you think you could help out.

You can read more about the plans and opportunities of the system we’re building, learn about the prototype, and join the discussion to help collaborate with us. You can also make a donation to support the work we are doing. I’d really appreciate it.

We Can’t Change Things by Ourselves

Sometimes it’s hard to grasp how you can help. I didn’t realize I could do it either until a little curiosity caught me. We need people like you to help us build a framework that will change how we can change the world.

This post originally appeared on Nick’s site, Hack/Make.

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