How do you get people to care about infrastructure resiliency/scale/access?

Here is the fed’s site-

My employer (not the gov) has a week long CERT training program and actively manages the teams and has city wide drills, everyone is encouraged to participate, it’s not mandatory. As an airline (and fortune 500 company) we are required to have a disaster response plan.

We can launch flights with satcom and already have shipping containers of food/water and medical supplies here at work. It has been made very clear that there will be no government help for months and we have to make it happen when the New Madrid Fault has an earthquake.

With my family 30 miles away, the only problem I have is how to evacuate them when all the bridges and roads are down, can’t plan for everything I guess.


I’m gonna guess FedEx? That is great your company does that, and for good reason, if you work for whom I think you may. Most companies, not so much.

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My November/Decembter Eagle Rock CERT class just filled up and is on wait-list. 150 class capacity. We typically see a 50% no-show rate so hopefully we’ll have a class of 75.

That is great to hear! Though, not about the 50% no show. Where I live in OH, people seem to have little concern. I could see how, in a state known for natural disasters, people might take an interest. I think we in the heartland may be too complacent.

Actually the problem we have here is that we don’t have natural disasters very often. The east, the south, the north, the northwest all get blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, thunderstorms, severe hail and windstorms, all on a yearly basis. CERT is likely a very real part of the response plan in these parts of the country.

Southern California might be “earthquake territory” but we don’t get them regularly enough for people to take them seriously.
We also have professional first-responders where other parts of the country have volunteer fire departments.

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Rural areas have volunteer FDs. Most appreciable sized towns have paid fire/EMS. As far as disasters, I suppose your view of that is, is dependent on your locality. Blizzards, flooding, etc. are (sadly) regular enough events, people become complacent. A mild tremor sends a Midwesterner into frothing hysteria.

SoCal has fires, mudslides, winds, and of course, earthquakes. I personally feel California is a death trap. :wink:

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An interesting TED Talk combining technology, some hints towards disaster relief, and the idea of complex systems developing out of less complex decentralized units.

Radhika Nagpal: What intelligent machines can learn from a school of fish

I watched this TED Talk and thought you would find it interesting.

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That was excellent! Who would’nt love robots hauling sandbags around instead of people? I can’t wait for this future.

Thanks for sharing


I love the decentralized nature of the little bots too. Rather than try to make a really smart multi-purpose robot, they are building small, inexpensive robots with simple coding to follow, which develops into a more complex system. A bot building a sandbag levee doesn’t need to know complex engineering. It just need to know where to put the next sandbag in relation to the previous sandbag.

Decentralization of medical diagnostics through use of inexpensive paper centrifuges, and paper and simple glass lens microscopes.

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So this is fascinating:

The Indian PM is starting a campaign to electrify the portion of the country that still doesn’t have power because, as the article says (bold my own):

Nearly 304 million Indians don’t have access to electricity, accounting for about a quarter of the global population living without power, according to NITI Aayog, a government think-tank. Several of these are in rural areas, where state power retailers are reluctant to supply electricity as returns fall below the investment made in infrastructure.

I guess for me this underlines once again why it’s so important to invest in alternative energy infrastructure. Even though I applaud any top-down approach to increasing access to essential infrastructure (like the power grid, in this case), it still leaves open the issue (IMO) that even if you force power retailers to supply electricity in places where they’ve said there’s not enough “return on investment”, they will still have little incentive to service/scale those areas properly AND moreover… you still have a central point of failure problem not to mention the top-down issues related to access, neutrality, etc.

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As I have said earlier in this thread, my parents have retired to the family farm nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Appalachians. When my Mom was a little girl, she remembers the farm being linked to the outside world via rural telephone and rural electrification programs. No such program has existed for internet or cell service, so they have limited to no access to these services.

The projects which brought the electricity and phone lines were impressive top-down accomplishments. That said, when power or phone go out for them these days, it usually takes a week to get them back up and running. The reason is they are the literally last on the line of the electric and telecommunications spurs, and low priority as a result. Both lines are carried on the same poles, so there are literally dozens of potential single point failures running down the side of the dirt road leading to their house. A fallen tree branch, a careless driver, a lightning strike. All these things could knock them out for potentially weeks as the companies pull new line, or put up new poles.

They have backup generators, and can sometimes get a cell signal if they climb to the top of the hill behind their house, but their situation is becoming more precarious as they fast approach their 80’s. They are considering turning the farm over to me and my siblings, and moving into a retirement community in a nearby larger town. I will get the house, as I am the only one living within a hundred miles of them (my siblings and I were actually born and raised out of state, and I coincidentally moved back to the state even before they retired, to go to college). It would make a nice retreat on weekends, and I would eventually like to retire there myself, and I have plans to go, “off grid,” but still maintain modern amenities.

My point…its not just developing nations which can benefit from a decentralized approach to electrification and communication. My parents considered options when they first moved back, but cost the was prohibitive, and the existing system just good enough, to not warrant the endeavour. For someplace without existing, “just good enoigh,” service, the cost of decentralized systems becomes less of a factor.

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The best way I think to make people care, is to make it personal for them. The situation has to seem like something that can happen to them, benefits them, or sells the ‘story’. You said you wanted to get away from the it-bleeds-it-sells approach, so it has to be conceptually something that is a factor for young/old/etc in day to day life. So average person experience being urban/sub-urban instead of disaster, nature hike, etc.

Small town scenarios would probably be best, or island scenarios (since islands by default tend to exhibit the closed factor). Then you have the ‘strength of community’ tropes to build on which tends to match a lot of psychological draws. People like Feel Good stories with smiling children and happy grandparents.

Like, with Goal Zero they send out their ambassadors with solar equipment, help set up a school in Africa with power, lighting, etc, and everyone goes Oooh Solar, that’s great, and then they just continue to not change their own lives. The same thing happened with the One Laptop Per Child thing, where they made low cost easily powered computers (also with basic mesh capabilities basically) so that the poor and disenfranchised in other countries could use them for education and training. You have little blips of Yay Technology, but since the blips are almost always scenarios where people don’t see it matching their own lives they never take any action beyond that.

So figuring out a way that that kind of technology can be incorporated and benefit and replace existing infrastructure would be the way to push it into more mainstream focus. The alternate option is to prey on paranoia and fear mongering. If everyone is afraid the government is out to get them, that there’s no privacy and data is censored, then MESH networks and VPNs become more appealing. If there’s a scare on about gas running out, or power plants failing, personal Solar power becomes big. I don’t think you’re desiring to use the negative approach though, but Fear is often times more of a motivation than Benefit. Fear makes us act, benefit makes us consider.

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Hi everyone, bringing up this old thread to introduce you all to @eamonabraham who joined goTenna’s team in December and is working on a magazine about decentralization, resiliency, and all its aspects — not just infrastructure or technology but culture, politics, economics, etc. We’re going to be launching a magazine on these topics soon — born in part from some of the questions/ideas we discussed here — so please share story ideas with him :slight_smile:

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Hi everyone! Excited to get to know everyone on here. Please don’t hesitate to tag or DM me with ideas, questions, or even just to say hello.


There have been experiments in decentralized art, in a few different senses. There is an example of a crowd-sourced sci-fi novel (, which is terrible, by most accounts.

I think there is an argument to be made that games like Second Life and Eve Online are a form of decentralized art.

There are also websites like Blend ( - something like Github for music - that are designed to facilitate decentralized collaboration.

I know of a few immersive experiences that have elements of decentralization, at least in the sense of being geographically distributed and nonlinear, like The Jejune Institute or Journey To The End of The Night that used to exist in San Francisco.

The Stupid Shit No One Needs And Terrible Ideas Hackathon is really an art project masquerading as a hackathon. Some prankster friends of mine started it four years ago in New York and it has sprung up in several cities around the world.

In my opinion the most prominent and successful decentralized art is internet memes.

One thing that all of these forms have in common is that they don’t look much like the art we are used to (even experimental contemporary art.)

Another common characteristic is that they seem to be much more successful as comedy than in other genres. I’ve been thinking about why this might be but haven’t come up with anything yet.

I’m sure there are many other examples that I don’t know about as well!

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Nice discussion. Too late for me on the last day of winter break to contribute anything very coherent. But I will be back.
The positive energy here is great, yet rational. Having lived 20 years in Humboldt I am very aware of not being too depend on the outside. If the Triple Junction ruptures ii would be weeks before anyone asked, Hey, how is Arcata doing.
Kinda like PR, I guess.


Just came across this old article that includes lots of instances of “crowdsourced art” -

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Perhaps a better way to get people to care is to sell devices such as the Gotenna based on what they can do for them in the ‘here and now’ rather than emphasizing such things as disaster preparedness. It might be hard for many people to justify buying a pair of mesh units for disaster communications (which may or may not be necessary in the next five years) or decentralized networks (when Verizon, AT&T, etc work just fine for them - at least for the forseeable future). But if people feel that they NEED a device like Gotenna so that they can stay in touch in areas that have no cell service, they will buy something like Gotenna. Once these people have something like the Gotenna in their hands, they will certainly discover their other attributes, as well as find other uses for the devices.

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Commenting on an old thread, since I meant to a long time ago but I’m still not a GoTenna owner.

To me, the key with decentralization for anything is the day-to-day benefit of it.

For example, solar power.

If we can get it to the point that most people will see money savings in 5 years or less, it will become ubiquitous. If we have ubiquitous solar power, the severity of a power grid failure is reduced drastically.

If there can be more uses for GoTenna on a daily or weekly basis, then I could see more use of it.

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