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Los Paquetes de Codigo Abierto

In about a month’s time, I’ll be going to Cuba for a week, hoping to do all the things that a traditional tourist usually does — down my share of mojitos, learn firsthand the different blends of tobacco, and indulge in a sunset dinner on a rooftop with barking dogs in the background. And having jumped into npm the Monday after leaving my old position, I’m looking forward to spending a week away.

However, since I’m going under the guise of the fairly non-descript “In Support of the Cuban People” visa, I feel it bears a bit more responsibility than just libations and victuals.

In my pre-trip research, I’ve been fairly surprised by the reports about how far behind Cuba is with regards to connectivity. A government-monitored network of 35 hotspots for 11 million people presents a certain bottleneck for progress. Recently, Jason Koebler of Vice has authored a series of insightful articles (Life, Offline and the Internet Dealers) about the challenges Cubans face when trying to connect to the outside world.

Particularly interesting: Koebler mentions the weekly delivery of “Los Paquetes”: thumb drives that arrive from the United States every Tuesday, loaded with some of the prior week’s television shows and movies. Here at npm, we often joke that thumb drives are a thing of the past, but this is the de facto way most Cubans access online content, since the alternative is a long line and a week’s wages for something resembling a dial-up connection.

This Columbus Day, ironically enough, I’ll be passing through Aeroporto de Havana with a rucksack of 50 thumb drives. Instead of filling these with Mr. Bean videos or the latest from the land of Westeros, I’m appealing to the Node community to help me support the young developer in Cuba. Let’s provide them the open-source tools, instructions, and offers of mentorship they might need to get started with their engineering careers. With your help, I hope to index, categorize, and transfer ~2GB of open-source software for the students of the Computer Science department at the University of Havana. Together, we can provide them a Paquete de Codigo Abierto: an open source package to be delivered personally. If you’re willing to help, here’s what we might do:

Please: no pirated software, propaganda, or viruses. Let’s use this as an offering of goodwill, not a political platform. I’ll be heading out on October 10th by way of Mexico City. If you’re able to contribute some time to the repo before then, I’d appreciate it. While you’re at it, feel free to drop me a line with suggestions of what else I ought to see while I’m there. For those of you local to California Norte, I can offer stories over cigars and rum upon my return.