SNet or streetnet is one of those jury-rigged miracles that you occasionally find in places where mainstream technologies have failed to penetrate. Now spanning a network that includes 9000 computers, stretching across Cuba, in five years SNet has grown and has a regular traffic of 2000 computers logging on daily. It provides connection for Cuban youths who have been denied internet access through a combination of Government restriction and ridiculously high prices.
Since the recent talks between the US and Cuba, the hope of reform promises to change the playing field, so this innovative solution to what was an ongoing problem is likely to evolve. It goes to demonstrate though that people will find a way around whatever restrictions are imposed on them. Information wants to be shared.
The government can get great spin value out of the idea that they are the white knights riding in to save the day and bring the country into the 21st century, but there is something equally inspiring about this degree of inventiveness and entrepreneurship.
Who knows, perhaps in SNet we might already have the seeds of a Cuban version of Google; maybe there is a budding Steve Jobs? The creators of SNet, now their story is out there, might be able to do their own stellar PR job and talk to the world about how they created this amazing resource without any outside help. Imagine if in just this little snippet of news that has found its way into the public consciousness from a changing Cuba, we actually have the dawning of a new era where Cuba steps up the plate and brings a wholly new aesthetic to the advertising market and the world of technology – larger things have come from smaller beginnings.