• Common sense: An examination of three Los Angeles community WiFi projects that privileged public funding over commons-based infrastructure management » The Journal of Peer Production

    Several high-profile incidents involving entire communities cut off from broadband access—the result of natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy in the Northeastern United States in 2012, to totalitarian governments in Egypt and Tunisia shutting down infrastructure in 2011—have raised awareness of the vulnerabilities inherent in a centralized internet. Policymakers are increasingly interested in the potential of community mesh networks (Harvard University, 2012), which use a decentralized architecture. Still, government agencies rarely fund community WiFi initiatives in U.S. cities. Three grassroots mesh networks in Los Angeles are distinct, however, as both local and state agencies subsidized their efforts. By comparing a public goods framework with theory of the commons, this study examines how government support impacted L.A.-based community wireless projects.

    By examining public investments in peer-to-peer networking initiatives, this study aims to better understand how substantial cash infusions influenced network design and implementation. Stronger community ties, self-reliance and opportunities for democratic deliberation potentially emerge when neighbors share bandwidth. In this sense, WiFi signal sharing is more than a promising “last mile” technology able to reach every home for a fraction of the cost required to lay fiber, DSL and cable (Martin, 2005). In fact, grassroots mesh projects aim to create “a radically different public sphere” (Burnett, 1999) by situating themselves outside of commercial interests. Typically, one joins, as opposed to subscribes to, the services. As Lippman and Reed (2003, p. 1) observed, “Communications can become something you do rather than something you buy.” For this reason, the economic theories of both public goods and the commons provide an ideal analytical framework for examining three community WiFi project in Los Angeles.

    The value of this commons is derived from the fact that no one owns or controls it—not people, not corporations, not the government (Benkler 2001; Lessig, 2001). The peer-to-peer architecture comprising community wireless networks provides ideal conditions for fostering civic engagement and eliminating the need to rely on telecommunications companies for connectivity. Instead of information passing from “one to many,” it travels from “many to many.” The primary internet relies on centralized access points and internet service providers (ISPs) for connectivity. By contrast, in a peer-to-peer architecture, components are both independent and scalable. Wireless mesh network design includes at least one access point with a direct connection to the internet—via fiber, cable or satellite link—and nodes that hop from one device to the next

    As the network’s popularity mounted, however, so did its challenges. The increasing prevalence of smartphones meant more mobile devices accessing Little Tokyo Unplugged. This required the LTSC to deploy additional access points, leading to signal interference. Network users overwhelmed LTSC staff with complaints about everything from lost connections to computer viruses. “We ended up being IT support for the entire community,” the informant said.

    Money, yes. Meaningful participation, no.

    Despite its popularity, the center shut down the WiFi network in 2010. “The decision was made that we couldn’t sustain it,” the informant said. While the LTSC (2010) invested nearly $3 million in broadband-related initiatives, the center neglected to seek meaningful participation from the wider Little Tokyo community. The LTSC basically functioned according to a traditional ISP model. In a commons, it is imperative that a fair relationship exists between contributions made and benefits received (Commons Sommerschule, 2012). However, the LTSC neither expected nor asked network users to contribute to Little Tokyo Unplugged in exchange for free broadband access. As a result, individual network users did not feel they had a stake in ensuring the stability of the network.

    HSDNC board members believed free WiFi would facilitate more efficient communication with their constituents, coupled with “the main issue” of digital inclusion, according to an informant. “The reality is that poor, working class Latino members of our district have limited access to the internet. A lot of people have cell phones, but we see gaps,” this informant said. These comments exemplify how the pursuit of public funding began to usurp social-production principles associated with a networked commons. While closing the digital divide and informing the public about community issues are laudable goals, they are clearly institutional ones.

    Rather than design Open Mar Vista/Open Neighborhoods according to commons-based peer production principles, the network co-founders sought ways to align the project with public good goals articulated by local and federal agencies. For instance, an informant stressed that community WiFi would enable neighborhood councils to send email blasts and post information online. This argument is a direct response to the city’s push for neighborhood councils to reduce paper correspondence with constituents (City of Los Angeles, 2010). Similarly, the grant application Open Neighborhoods submitted to the federal Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program—which exclusively funded broadband infrastructure and computer adoption initiatives—focused on the potential for community WiFi networks to supply Los Angeles’ low-income neighborhoods with affordable internet (National Telecommunications & Information Administration, 2010). The proposal is void of references to concepts associated with the commons, even though this ideological space can transform broadband infrastructure from a conduit to the internet into a technology for empowering participants. It seems that, ultimately, the pursuit of public funding supplanted initial goals of creating a WiFi network that fostered inclusivity and collaboration.

    There’s little doubt that Manchester Community Technologies accepted a $453,000 state grant in exchange for a “mesh cloud” it never deployed. These findings suggest an inherent conflict exists between the quest to fulfill the state’s public good goals, and the commons-based community building necessary to sustain a grassroots WiFi network. One could argue that this reality should have prevented California officials from funding Manchester Community Technologies’ proposal in the first place. Specifically, a successful community WiFi initiative cannot be predicated on a state mandate to strengthen digital literacy skills and increase broadband adoption. Local businesses and residents typically share bandwidth as part of a broader effort to create an alternative communications infrastructure, beyond the reach of government—not dictated by government. Grassroots broadband initiatives run smoothly when participants are committed to the success of a common enterprise and share a common purpose. The approach taken by Manchester Community Technologies does not reflect these principles.

    #Communs #wifi #mesh_networks #relations_communs_public

  • Les Etats-Unis encouragent des réseaux pour déjouer l’espionnage numérique - New York Times

    … mais pas chez eux ! Après les révélations d’Edward Snowden sur Prism, l’article de Carlotta Gall et James Glanz du New York Times pourrait presque être amusant, s’il ne soulignait pas la schizophrénie de la politique extérieure américaine. A Sayada, en Tunisie, le département d’Etat américain a versé 2,8 millions de dollars à une équipe de hackers américains pour développer un réseau maillé… un réseau d’ordinateurs connecté pair à pair (voir les explications que nous donnait Cyril Fiévet en 2004 sur cette technologie) via le projet Commotion et s’apprête à en verser 4,3 pour en développer un à Cuba. Par contre, il n’a pas investit dans les réseaux maillés américains alternatifs qui se développent à Détroit ou (...)

    #mesh_networks #accès_internet

    • #cccp #surveillance

      juste une remarque : la schizophrénie correspond à une lutte entre diverses tendances, ce qu’on pourrait éventuellement appeler… débat… démocratique ? non ? Préfère-t-on un Etat où il n’y a qu’une seule tête, une seule ligne du parti ?

      (D’autres souligneront que dans les deux cas on lutte pour une forme technologique de développement des sociétés.)

  • http://cultureandempire.com/html/edgenet.html

    The Edge Net : A First Design Proposal

    The spy state cannot be voted out of office. It eats laws for breakfast and excretes excuses for breaking them. We will either build a spy-proof Internet, that cannot be banned or controlled, or we accept to become slaves.

    Mon passage préféré :

    That gives us a global fabric, which I’ll dub the “Cellnet.” The Cellnet is slow, asynchronous, opportunistic, and works at a human scale, closely tied to our physical movements and proximity to other people. It is a different animal from the Internet we use today, where distance is abstracted to nothing and you never really know who you are talking to. I like the idea of de-abstracting technology.


    A sustainable social network would be a collection of real relationships, not clicks. It would be based on private relationships, since to expose one’s relationships makes it them public assets. That may work in some contexts, and certainly in open communities, yet open communities seem to be a different animal than social networks. Each person’s social network, that map of our relationships and how important each one is to us, would be owned by each of us, and no one else.


    As a user experience, it’s simple. I have stuff (code, photos, ideas, documents, music) that I want to share with one or more people. I choose the stuff, click Share (it should be a physical button on the phone) and it pops up my most important groups and people. I choose who to share it with, and that’s it.

    The actual sharing might take hours or days, as I meet people and our phones exchange data. My stuff hops leisurely across the Cellnet, sometimes getting lost and trying again, until it finds its destination. I don’t really care. With enough people connected, data can travel very rapidly and if I really have gigabytes to send, I’ll wait until I see the person and we can work over a direct WiFi link.

    (Pieter Hintjens)

    #cccp #privacy #mesh_networks

  • Non couvert par les opérateurs, un village crée son propre réseau mobile - Numerama

    « Faute de couverture par le principal #opérateur du pays, des habitants d’un village mexicain ont créé leur propre opérateur téléphonique local, dont le prix défie toute concurrence. » Tags : internetactu2net fing internetactu #mesh_networks opérateur (...)


  • Une campagne de financement participatif pour libérer les téléphones des réseaux des opérateurs - Technology Review

    Le projet Serval - http://www.servalproject.org - veut lancer des réseaux Mesh à grande échelle et nous libérer des opérateurs téléphoniques. Etes-vous prêts ? Tags : internetactu2net internetactu fing #téléphonie #télécommunications (...)


  • Hackerland : le hacking rural | Yovan Menkevick

    Le concept de hackerspace est désormais bien connu, il se développe un peu partout en France. Mais celui du #hackerland en est encore au stade expérimental. Cette conférence de Philippe Langlois du /tmpl/lab (le plus vieux hackerspace de la région parisienne) permet de mieux appréhender ce concept de hackerland tout à fait passionnant, aux potentiels délirants… Hackerlands : Est-ce que les #hackerspaces représentent une alternative de fonctionnement possible dans l’espace rural ? from Alexandre Girard on Vimeo. Billets en relation : Changer la société (3) : la politique du code source ouvert Changer la société (2) : l’archipel des hackers Changer la société : le hacking pour modèle

    #A_la_Une #Tribunes #/tmp/lab #archipel_des_hackers #hacherspaces_ruraux #hack_campagnard #le_hacking_pour_modèle #mesh_networks #philippe_langlois #réseaux_maillés_wifi #telecomix_camp

  • Creative Commons’ Joichi Ito: Arab Unrest Altered Social Media’s Image - Arabic Knowledge Wharton

    If I pay you a dollar to be my friend, that’s the most direct way of engaging in a relationship, right? But that’s the content business in the old way. I’ll pay you a dollar for the article, but what about saying, “O.K., you give me your stuff and I give you your stuff. We do a conference and we get excited about it. And we come up with new ideas.” There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on. You can sell tools and you can sell conferences. You can sell all kinds of stuff this way.

    The idea that you’re paying directly for the content, to be really blunt, is like the relationship between a master and a servant, where the journalist is the servant. There must be a more sophisticated way for this interaction to happen, because the journalist actually enjoys writing, and the readers enjoy reading.

    • très intéressant aussi sur le #cccp :

      So I think I could very easily see #mesh_networks being deployed very quickly once the sub-power and the #Internet goes out. It will be an arms race where activists will build ad hoc infrastructure, and governments will come out with different ways to shut it down, and it will resume back and forth.

      sur les liens qu’il voit entre startups et innovation sociale/logiciel libre (avec sa perspective très entrepreneuriale) :

      A lot of the social entrepreneurship comes from interactions with the startup community. Whether you’re successful or you’re a failure, if you’ve done a couple of tech startups, you get a certain level of agility, you know, a ’get-this-stuff-done’ kind of attitude. And I think that they’re developing that in the streets, as it’s really resource constrained, but we need to get things going.

      There isn’t as much community discussion about best practices. In Silicon Valley, if you go Cupertino, if you go to this one place, people sit around and talk all day about agile development and uplink startups and people working on Ruby On Rails

      et aussi sur la #cartographie de l’#innovation:

      There’s an economist at the MIT media lab, he maps which products are contributing to the GDP as a country. And instead of using GDP per capita, he shows the products, and then maps them like ontology, and he models what sorts of complex set of attributes or skills the country needs in order to create that product. In much of the Gulf, you have oil as the main output, which increases the GDP per capita, but there aren’t adjacent products. It’s a very tricky thing to push innovation when you don’t have the ability to take millions of textile workers and upgrade them to adjacent things. You actually have to have somebody who can build the machines and the plants, and create the product. That requires a community of people.