United Methodist Communications Steps Up as First Faith-Based Organization For Innovative Global ‘Public Library’ Project

Date Posted: 7/23/2015

United Methodist Communications, the communications agency of The United Methodist Church, has joined an effort being dubbed “Humanity’s Public Library” as the first faith-based organization participating in the innovative initiative.

Outernet, a company dedicated to connecting every person on Earth to free data through pioneering satellite technology, will hold its first content gathering event July 18-19 at the Mozilla East Africa Festival in Kampala, Uganda. Called an Edit-A-Thon, the two-day meeting is intended to gather parties from around the world, either in person or remotely, to choose digital media for Outernet’s “public library.”

Currently, more than 60 percent of the people in the world do not have regular Internet connectivity, limiting their access to information typically found on the web, such as Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, textbooks, etc.

Outernet intends to eliminate that disparity through a number of ground breaking technologies; United Methodist Communications’ Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) team has joined the effort.

"For most people on Earth, faith is a very important part of daily life so including religious works in Humanity's Public Library is a no brainer," said Thane Richard, Publisher and COO, Outernet. "Outernet hopes to expand its work with different faiths as operations grow and we are thrilled to officially have our first: The United Methodist Church. By engaging its global network, the leaders at United Methodist Communications will be invaluable in guiding us as we build out the faith-based content of Outernet's library."

Once the content is ready for broadcast, users can access the information with a receiver. Outernet currently offers a DIY receiver kit, with other items in development. Lantern, a project from Outernet that has raised more than $670,000 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, is set for release later in 2015. With Lantern, content will download on the device, much like a server, and will use satellite to transmit and update content. Deciding what content should be on the Lantern is the purpose of the Edit-A-Thon.

Lantern has been called “the short wave radio for the digital age” by Fast Company and “a tiny satellite dish that brings info the world’s deadzones” by Wired.

Transforming communications across The United Methodist Church and within communities in the developing world who frequently have been cut off from technological advances is the mission of the United Methodist Communications’ ICT4D team.

On September 17-19 in Nashville, United Methodist Communications will host the Game Changers Summit 2015 to gather technology and communications leaders from around the globe to speak and train on developing a communications strategy to aid social good throughout the developing world. Registration is underway for the two-a-half-day event. Thane Richard will be a featured panelist at the Game Changers Summit, speaking on “Drones, 3D Printing and Outernet: How New Technologies Impact Lives.”