In Tech Survival: The Creativity of Cuba we look and the creativity needed in Cuba.
In 1991, Cuba’s economy began to implode. “The Special Period in the Time of Peace” was the government’s euphemism for what was a culmination of 30 years worth of isolation. It began in the 60s, with engineers leaving Cuba for America. Ernesto Oroza, a designer and artist, studied the innovations created during this period. He found that the general population had created homespun, Frankenstein-like machines for their survival, made from everyday objects. Oroza began to collect these machines, and would later contextualize it as “art” in a movement he dubbed “Technological Disobedience.”
You can download a pdf of “Con Nuestros Propios Esfuerzos” from here.
Castro hates the internet, so Cubans created their own
A few years ago some computer gamers based in Havana strung a small web of ethernet cables, from house to house, so they could play video games together. The network has grown quietly and today its called StreetNet: a bootleg internet for Havana with over 10,000 users. It was an innovation forged by necessity in a country where only 5 percent of the citizens have access to the uncensored internet. Watch the why Cuba’s internet is stuck in 1995.
Cuba has some of the worst internet access in the world, with just 5 percent of Cubans able to access the uncensored web.
Since the communist revolution of 1959, the Castro regime has enforced a strict ban on all forms of information flow that challenge official policy and history. Enforcing such censorship has been relatively easy for an island nation that has a monopoly over all media outlets. But when the internet arrived in the ’90s, it complicated matters for the Castro’s.
As Cubans get a taste for the wonder that is the internet, they want more. As internal pressure grows, the Cuban regime will likely continue to find creative ways to offer the internet without losing control of the flow of information. The opening of Cuba to foreign investment and travel will only speed up the process.
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check outhttp://www.vox.com to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.
Media smugglers get Taylor Swift, Game of Thrones, and the New York Times to Cubans every week through an illegal network of runners.
This is Cuba’s Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify – all without the internet
In Cuba there is barely any internet. Anything but the state-run TV channels is prohibited. Publications are limited to the state-approved newspapers and magazines. This is the law. But, in typical Cuban fashion, the law doesn’t stop a vast underground system of entertainment and news media distributors and consumers.
“El Paquete Semanal” (The Weekly Package) is a weekly trove of digital content—everything from American movies to PDFs of Spanish newspapers—that is gathered, organized and transferred by a human web of runners and dealers to the entire country. It is a prodigious and profitable operation.
I went behind the scenes in Havana to film how the Paquete works. Check out the video above to see how Cubans bypass censorship to access the media we take for granted.
The Cuban Revolution
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Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.