Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How does one post material on the Cuban "sneaker net?"

Warhol P has written a Havana Times post on the Cuban "sneaker net" -- the circulation of movies, TV shows, software, etc. on flash and hard disk drives.

He reports prices of 50 Cuban Pesos (around $2) for 80 to 500 gigabytes of material and 10 Cuban Pesos for 8 to 16 gigabytes. (These days one can get 64GB USB-2 flash drives for under $30 and 128 GB drives for under $50).

Warhol P says home delivery service is available and some consumers go to the home of the supplier to put together a package in accordance with their preferences. Other suppliers rent out hard drives for three to four days for a little over 4.00 Cuban Convertible Pesos (around $4).

But I have a question -- how does one gain access to the sneaker net? For example, I have developed some Spanish language tech teaching material for young people. It is under Creative Commons license and I'd be happy to see it distributed in Cuba. I'd also like to see the Khan Academy teaching material distributed in Cuba using KA Lite, a packaging of the Khan Academy content for use off line.

Are the sneaker net distributions put together in the US? Are they pretty much only entertainment and software or are they open to other types of material? Is there a way to submit material for inclusion?

Update 12/16/2014

I have asked how one gets information into the weekly "paquetes" -- who compiles and organizes the material and gets it to Cuba for distribution. People have offered speculation, but no answers. Isbel Diaz Torres of Havana Times has published a comprehensive description of the weekly paquetes along with the theory that they are so well organized, regular and done without interference, that their distribution must be "a Cuban government project, possibly developed in one of those mysterious agencies in the Ministry of the Interior, hidden from the public."

There is precedent for this theory. Years ago, I visited a government storefront office in Havana where one could get copies of any current PC software. You had to bring your own floppy disks for the copies and printer paper if you wanted documentation.

This post was Part one of two. I'm looking forward to Part two.

Update 2/8/2015

In part two, Torres restates his hypotheses that the weekly packages of digital material are delivered by or in cooperation with the Cuban government and speculates that they are doing so in order to placate the Cuban people by giving them entertainment, saying
It’s a question of keeping the “masses” entertained, docile, isolated from true consumption, in other words, the well-known social control strategy used by States to guarantee governability and that Cuba is setting in motion at a time when less and less can be justified on the basis of Cuba-US conflicts.
He speculates that the government is counting on this affordable entertainment plus access to a few second-rate services on the Cuban intranet to satisfy the Cuban people. If that is the case, they are surely wrong.

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