CryptoCurrencyBall: Tinkerer's Blessing Moneyball Takes on E-Waste

The previous post basically took MIT SustainAble City Labs and E-Stewards to task for the ill-conceived GPS tracking study that succeeded, mostly, in elevating negative stereotypes about both scrappers and tech sector workers in emerging markets. 

Basel Action Network is trying to monetize tracking of unwitting, unwilling subjects.  I just hope MIT will eventually do the right thing and apologize for its role in using undergraduate students to place tracked devices, disguised as repairable (and in some cases WERE repaired), and associating legitimate overseas technicians with "rice paddies" and "shantytowns".

Now for the positive, forward looking alternative, the Fair Trade Recycling vision.
"Your goal shouldn't be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins... I believe there is a championship team that we can afford, because everyone else undervalues them." Peter Brand, Moneyball
We are working to fly 2 of the brightest LED/LCD/Plasma display techincians I have met in Ghana over the past 4 years to Middlebury, Vermont, to train and interract with Good Point Recycling staff. We sent 2 student interns to work with one of those technicians under the Fair Trade Recycling "e-Waste Ambassadors" program last summer (Middlebury College and U of Florida).

We are going to be card counters at the blackjack table...

And here is a paid Fair Trade Recycling Internship post to bring us there (please repost).

I call it CryptoCurrencyBall...

Our Take On E-waste is logical, progressive, profitable, engaging.  We don't just see technology for what it can do, rather than for what it cannot do.  We see people that way.

A database program established by Wentworth Institute cooperative intern Morgan Whittemore has been successfully implemented at Good Point Recycling to scale a project first successfully done with hirees from the Americans With Disabilities Act program Good Point has enlisted with for years with Counseling Services of Addison County.

The internship we are now trying to hire into will produce a smartphone app which Emerging Market Tech Sector workers can use to photograph flat TV parts for searching the inventory by object recognition software.  We will then implement the same program at Retroworks de Mexico (our first Fair Trade Recycling partner).

I'm still working on a book, tentatively titled "Tinkerer's Blessing", but am waiting to read 2 publications first (Dr. Josh Lepawsky's "Reassembling Rubbish" from MIT Press, coming out soon, and a second work by Junkyard Planet author Adam Minter.  After seeing what they've documented, I want to distribute our "Moneyball" approach to so-called "AID" approaches in the so-called "Third World".

I don't see "Stuff".  I see people. And at the age of 56, I'm realizing that's a gift that not everyone has.  I don't see stereotypes anymore. Even when an NGO shows "primitive" recycling in Hong Kong, the worst image they can find to deliver, I see an EcoPark behind it which brought in material before it was ready and had to put outside the only type of "ewaste" that Hong Kong EPA said was non-hazardous (printers). No CRTs, no flats, just printers. I saw people disassembling them by hand and selling the parts through the largest printer parts market on earth, out of Shenzhen.  And I want that same incredible skill to be leveraged in Africa.

The best blog of last year, "Heliocentrism: The Economics Don't Revolve Around Us" gave the theory of our recycling cosmos.  Now it's time for Magellen to sail around the world, for Darwin to show smart people succeeding in emerging markets by adapting, to stop generating "halloweenish" stereotypes of children burning filthy e-waste.  MIT has thousands of smart kids whose parents sent them to college repairing and fixing and tinkering, and I am confident MIT will make up for its role in arming Basel Action Network with a weapon of extortion.

Giving one million dollars per year to a non-profit in Seattle, Washington, to take photos exploiting slums in Asia and Africa, never giving a dollar to the people they exploit, is one of the worst things you can do.   But worse still is the (now shuttered) "Project Eden" approach of snaring TV repairmen like "Hurricane" Joseph Benson (with the first GPS tracking sabotage trick).  And bringing in the government "command and control" sector in Africa to "arrest wire burners" isn't progress, either.

The tech sector overseas isn't an "Isle of Dogs" dystopia, or a Blade Runner chip harvesting children. It is the ONLY explanation for the "critical mass of users" who supported the investments in TV stations, hydroelectric dams, solar investments, internet cables, and cell phone towers that brought internet and democracy to people around the world.  The "Tinkerers Blessing" isn't about the stuff, its about why the smartest people in the global south got their money to buy that stuff.

The (working title) "Clean Hands" documentary is coming out soon.  It may wind up on the cutting room floor, but I have film of Jim Puckett claiming not to know the name of Joseph Benson, then tearing off the microphone and angrily calling it a biased question ("Do you know who Joe Benson is?") and saying we don't have his permission to air his interview. Quite a hilarious reaction to a name you claim not to know anything about.  And if Jim tries to sue me for defamation, it's going to be submitted as evidence that WE are the only ones watching the "watchdog".

The progress will be achieved by trading fairly with the Tech Sector, the Repair and Fixer and Tinkerers who provided the industries that resource-poor countries (Asian tiger economies, etc) build upon.  Acer, Foxconn, Hyundai, etc all started by importing, repairing, and copying developed world's secondhand equipment.  That's the smartest, sustainable, and most environmentally sensitive way to engage with Africa, South America, and Asia.

We will proudly work with Africa's technicians, the "geeks of color" I have blogged about for the past ten years.  We are going to sell them the parts they need by paying them in CryptoCurrency for the photos they upload and identify (Game Theory).

Africans, too, have a RIGHT TO REPAIR.  And it's time that environmentalists stand up to the bullyboys who have been promoting this racist boycott of the tech sector and making money off of the slum photography.

I intend to retire in 9 years, and this is going to be the cherry on the cake, girls and boys.  It isn't going to be to a white savior "sugarmouth" mansion lording over Agbogbloshie.  I'm proud of working with autistic people because that was HARD for me, it did not come naturally, but it took hiring people with OCD to copy what the African TV repair sector was doing, and now it's time for the Africans to make some money for what they can do, rather than for what they cannot do.  End the aid.  Reward the Big Bang Theory kids from your Peace Corps classrooms. Invest with us. Join Fair Trade Recycling, come aboard, let your eyes adjust to the dark.

It is time for CryptoCurrencyBall.

No comments: