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Monday, October 13, 2008

If you build it for the good of all

The words whispered to Ray Kinsella played by Kevin Costner in the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams” were the catalyst for building a baseball park for the legacy and the legends of the game. We never see the finished park. What was to attract fans was not a humongous facility, but the re-capture of a simple, wholesomeness for the good of all.

The words, “If you build it they will come” were as much about the players, those who play for the absolute love of the game, as well as the fans.

I have been urging and encouraging people with the Knowledge, Skills and Experience to build computers and servers for small business and neighbors, alike. That’s nothing spectacular. People will come to you not for the glitz, but for the homespun trust and “service” (actually, it’s “being neighborly”) they chance not finding at their local retailer for something they can use and is affordable. It is a means of revenue for the system builders and a means of allowing low-income Americans the opportunity to own a computer.

My search for the cheapest computer came up with $279, $195 and $164 (monitor not included). I am not going to name brands as a matter of principal. I maintain with a little resourcefulness an at-home tech-built computer system will beat the cheapest. How, you ask?

Lets understand, for starters, even $164 is a bit more than many people can comfortable to pull out of pocket for a single purchase. So, why do I believe they would be willing to pay even twice as much?

The next time your co-worker, neighbor or friend laughs at the prospect of owning a computer tell him to drop by when he’s got $10 to spare. Then, you send him off with a single-item grocery list to Goodwill or a discount parts reseller to buy a power supply, keyboard or mouse. Next month he’s got $20 and he holds it another month until he’s got $35. You send him off with a grocery list and he returns with a motherboard. Finally, six months later after purchasing a hard drive and monitor and other essentials he has everything you need to build his system.

On a sunny Saturday morning your friend brings coffee and tacos (donuts? bagels?) and joins you in the garage. You assemble the system and install the Windows copy he bought at Goodwill or you go online to download the OS for his computer. After numerous reboots your friend is a happy, proud owner of his first system and puts $30 dollars in your hand as agreed between neighbors, previously. Total price: $400. SAY WHAT!! Whoa thar, hombre!!

What happened to the cheaper-than-retailer talk? No, this is not a case of poor addition. The above scenario is not to depict exact price for every single piece nor your service fee. It is intended to show how your friend, on his own terms, buys all the essential components for his system, himself. In the end the price tag could possibly exceed the reseller’s display case model. What’s the advantage for your friend? It is a deal he is never going to get at Best Buy, Circuit City, Walmart, Dell or HP. He won’t even get that on layaway and it's certainly not a handout.

The advantage and the reason your friend is happy is that despite the fact he could see this was turning out to cost a bit more than the store model

The bottom dollar price was one he was able to absorb into his daily living expenses.

This scenario, when replicated through the dynamic of a network is nothing less than the inclusion of the low-income consumer into the cyber world. Greater still than building a computer for a neighbor is the buildup of community one neighbor at a time for the good of all.

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