The Global Civil Society Laptop

the vacuum packed computer concept! by Allen

The Global Civil Society Laptop should not be oppressed by hundreds of "standardized" sizes for computer components, power options, or communication interfaces. It should be free to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in. You shouldn't have to lug an armload of power adapters, nor should the word "dongle" ever cross your lips again. Computer case manufacturing doesn't need to involve huge factories or injection molding machines, but as case-moders have exuberantly proclaimed - it should be a personalized process, done on a small scale, and with simple tools and materials. This same mentality can make high technology sustainable for developing nations. These nations should be spared our strange obsession with tiny screws, funky plastic parts and stamped metal pci slot covers.

In short, the Global Civil Society Laptop should be:

  1. Not very particular about the size and number of components you put in it.
  2. Not very particular about how you power it.
  3. Not very particular about how you hook it up to other devices.
  4. Not very particular about dust and water
  5. And not very particular about how where it gets mounted/placed

I respectfully submit to the Viridian Design movement, the internet, and the occasional slashdot reader what I felt was the best solution to these constraints - the VacuumPacked Computer.

I started by taking the flattest thing I could locally. In this case, a piece of corrugated cardboard. Maybe later, I'll upgrade to a piece of fiberglass siding, the top of a 55-gallon drum, or a license plate from a Toyota Land Cruiser. It doesn't matter as long as it's stiff and flat. Then went to the local Global Society Computer Shop, got a medium-sized transparent plastic Computer Bag, browsed the bins and filled the Computer Bag with:

The helpful Global Civil Society Computer Person then vacuum sealed everything in the Computer Bag. When I need to upgrade, they'll just cut it open, add the parts, and re-seal the whole thing back.

I picked out grommets in the sizes I liked, and installed them at the grommet station. I purchased some carabineers, a handful of their Data Interface Paperclips, and picked out a stylus in my favorite color:

Some unique features:

Global Civil Society Switching Power Supply - GCS-SPS
You have to get power somewhere, why limit yourself to one source? The global civil society laptop gets power from anything you can clamp it to- from solar cell to car battery, funky native power outlet, or someone rubbing their hands against a balloon. I thought I'd avoid red for positive and black for negative.... aren't there enough color problems in the world? Besides, that would imply that you could screw things up with the incorrect polarity... which you can't. That's the nice thing about the GCSSPS...it'll take anything you give it.

If you're running on a potato or watch battery, and itís not a lot of power, the system merely slows down. If you attached it to an arc welder and really, there's probably too much power, it runs a lot faster. If it gets too hot, you can always submerge it in a lake or river. (Itís all vacuum-sealed and waterproof)

Global Civil Society Digital Signal Processor - GCS-DSP
Being a good global citizen, this computer should interface with computers and peripherals, no matter where they hail from. This is where the GCS-DSP comes in handy. If you can figure out where to put the clips, it will find other digital things to talk to.

Clip one global computer to another for an instant network. Attach it to a railroad track, chain-link fence, metal pipe, and your VacuumPacked Computer will communicate with anything else attached. Attached to a phone, and the GCS-DSP will be a modem. Have a bunch people hold hands between villages, and attach the clips to bodyparts on each end and you will have a local village network and a fun way to build bonds and promote unity.

The GCC-DSP allows your computer to communicate on "civilized" serial data standards, such as USB, firewire, RS-232, wi-fi, etc. Sometimes the Data Interface Paperclips come in handy for building the bridge to the more "developed" world.

If you like wireless, attach the GCS-DSP to different lengths of wires and after it scans all the frequencies, it will let you to make cellphone calls, find your favorite TV station, setup a pirate radio station, or a wireless local area network (useful if you don't like clamping to yourself and having people hold hands)

special Data Interface for locating sources of power and data

Data Interface Paperclips:
Used for probing those awfully small concavities where data or power usually lurks. Can also be used as an emergency stylus.

Stylus:
Use to make a custom logo on your VacuumPacked Computer, label connections, take notes. With the cap placed in the ON position, it instantly becomes a stylus for the touch screen. When (not if) you forget and mark up the screen, you can always take your computer into the Global Civil Society Computer Shop and get a new Computer Bag.

Grommets:
Grommets make it easy to attach a handle, shoulder strap, or mount it on the wall. Attach to a fishing line and drop the whole thing down a well for cooling or archival purposes. Chain it to yourself for a quick security solution. If you ever had to mount a server to an elephant or an iceberg, you know that grommets make the job a whole lot easier.

Flattery and job offers can be sent to:

Allen - underemployed inventor and industrial designer.
threadprinter*hotmail.com

Special thanks to the References Cited in this design:
Tad Toulis - Designer, Philosopher @ Lunar Design, expanded my mind with his concepts of dematerialized digital " Products as Service "

Stuart Walker - Professor of Industrial Design @ University of Calgary for his presentation at the 2002 IDSA Educators Conference "Objects as Symbols of Beauty" about sustainability concepts of beauty.