Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Impressions of the first Cuban Android community meetup

It would be great if Cuba could find a sustainable middle ground between the economy and culture of the early hobby and academic days and the dominance of money and advertising we have today in the US.

The first meeting of the Cuban Android community was held last Saturday. OnCuba Magazine reported on the meetup and you should read their coverage, but here are a couple of things I noticed:

The meetup was organized by the people who contribute to the TuAndroid blog, which they insist is not a blog, but a family.

The meetup tagline was "For a technological culture accessible to all."

Ailyn Febles, president of the Unión de Informáticos de Cuba, a State professional society with 8,000 members, called for an exchange between academia, state professionals and the non-state tech community.

TuAndroid founder Jorge Noris also called for cooperation between the state and non-state tech communities -- maybe this signals a policy change.

One of the speakers was Phillip Oertel, a Google engineer who worked on the Play Store. I was hoping he would say something about mirroring the Play Store on SNET or somewhere else in Cuba via, say, weekly batch updates, but evidently he did not. (It seems he is now working on a different project, Android Instant Aps, which, when launched, would be useful in a low-bandwidth nation like Cuba.

The meeting was held at the studio of the artist Kcho, which has a hands-on space with Google Chromebooks, Cardboard and phones, sponsored in part by Google. Kcho said his was a "space of sovereignty and freedom, which shows the daily struggle against the blockade" -- perhaps a necessary dollop of political correctness.

People helping each other after the formal talks

When the talks finished, there was an open session during which people helped each other -- answering questions, installing apps, upgrading Android, jailbreaking phones, etc. This sharing and assistance was done without charge and with a spirit of community building. It sounds like the days of the hobby computer clubs in the US. People helped each other freely and openly -- even the early businesses like Apple. The early academic and research days of the Internet felt the same.

It would be great if Cuba could find a sustainable middle ground between the economy and culture of the early hobby and academic days and the dominance of money and advertising we have today in the US.

Some related posts.

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Update 10/4/2016

Members of the independent Android community toured the headquarters of State-owned DESOFT and heard a talk sponsored by the Union of Information of Cuba. This might be further indication of progress toward cooperation and collaboration between independent and state software developers. I am far removed from Cuba to know, but, offhand, it seems like a step in the right direction.

Dr. Orestes Febles speaking at the conference
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