Jamboree on the Internet
On the third weekend of October each year, Scouts from all around the globe get together for the Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet. It’s rather “old school.” JOTA connects Scouts via HAM Radio, while JOTI connects Scouts over the Internet. Using the same Internet Relay Chat infrastructure we used 20 years ago (before the “world wide web!”) we connect to a series of private servers called Scoutlink.
I tried JOTI last year – didn’t get too far into it. One of the issues with IRC is that when it is busy, it is REALLY hard to follow a conversation in a busy chat room. But this year I gave it a bit more of a try. It seems like the best things in life always take a couple of tries until you get it right.
One of the cool things JOTI has developed is a system of validation cards. Ham radio operators have used these for years. After you make contact, you fill out a card to say that you made a new friend. Thanks to the Internet, these cards don’t have to be mailed anymore. They can be sent almost instantly as printable postcards.
Using IRC, once you make contact with a new station/Scout group elsewhere in the world, you can then log on to the www.jotajoti.org website and send a validation card. I probably only sent validation cards to about ¼ of the folks that I met this weekend. And I probably sent close to twice as many validation cards as I received. But that still came out to having received contacts from over 40 new Scout groups around the world!
My 8 year old and I met lots of new people. Many were from the UK, quite a few from Australia. All over Europe and Asia, a contact from South America ~ but we never got a validation card from anyone in Africa. Maybe next year?
Our afternoon project tonight was to print out all of our cards, pin them to a board, and tie them to a map. It was fun, and is a really cool way to remember JOTI.
[edit: the following image was added to this post.]