TEK: An Email-Based Web Browser

Note (Aug 2010): After years of sustained usage, including 7500 searches from 450 locations, we need to shut down the TEK server due to decreased traffic in recent months. It remains possible to set up the server at a new location using the code available on SourceForge. If you are an organization that would benefit from using TEK, or you would like to adopt the service as your own, please get in touch with us to see how we can make it work for you. Thanks!

TEK empowers low-connectivity communities by providing a full Internet experience using email as the transport mechanism.

Compared to direct Web access, email can be much cheaper, more reliable and more convenient in developing areas. The TEK Client (TEK stands for "Time Equals Knowledge") operates as a proxy on the user's machine, enabling users to browse downloaded pages using a standard Web browser. New searches are automatically encoded as emails and sent to the TEK Server, which queries the Web and returns the contents of resulting pages via email.

The TEK Client (available for download) provides:

  • Automatic web search using an ordinary email account.
  • Caching, indexing, and searching of downloaded web pages.
  • Basic user management for community installations.
  • A user-friendly HTML interface designed by professionals at Scirus.
  • A customized version of Firefox for viewing pages cached by TEK.
The TEK Server (previously running at MIT) features:
  • An interface with Google (or Scirus) for search results.
  • Simplification and compression of pages to reduce bandwidth requirements.
  • Conversion of PDF and PS files to HTML.
  • An internal database of pages sent to each client to avoid wasting bandwidth on duplicated results (optional).

TEK is free software distributed under the GNU LGPL license.

TEK 2.0.4 2006-04-13
  • TEK 2.0.4 released.

  • More news...