Interesting links on decentralization, mesh networking, protocols, telecommunications & any other goTenna Mesh-relevant topic!
I’m going to have to share that if that’s ok.
And go read the book!
goTenna Mesh (and other cool tech) in a Wall Street Journal about our post-net neutrality world:
Since it’s behind a paywall, I’ll share the goTenna bits here (which includes a quote from Mesh Community member @linenoise!):
Daniela Perdomo is concerned about the power of U.S. telecom giants that stand to gain from the repeal of “net neutrality” rules. Her company offers a way around them: A $90 antenna that lets users send messages without cellular service or Wi-Fi.
Ms. Perdomo is among the entrepreneurs whose vision for an alternative route to internet access is finding takers in Silicon Valley, where tech types were rattled by a recent government decision to overturn rules that required big internet providers to treat all traffic equally.
“Society requires connectivity to function and to advance but we are leaving telecommunications in the hands of a few large corporations,” Ms. Perdomo said. “The lack of a choice is a problem.”
A mesh network may be another alternative to traditional internet access. Instead of accessing the internet through one provider, users of a mesh network pull bits of information from many different nodes—such as phones, laptops and antennas—around them, and often serve as a node themselves.
That is the idea behind Ms. Perdomo’s company goTenna Inc., which makes a strap-on antenna the size of a smartphone that can connect with sister devices several miles away using a radio signal. The devices sync to phones for a connection strong enough to send encrypted texts and GPS coordinates between devices.
As more antennas are added to the network, the messages can be sent over distances surpassing 4 miles. Rather than Wi-Fi or cellular signal, goTenna relies on publicly available radio frequencies.
Ms. Perdomo, a New Yorker who dreamed up goTenna when Hurricane Sandy rendered the city’s cellphone service unreliable in 2012, said her broader goal is to build a free, “bottom up” communica-tion network accessible to all and more reliable than the “top down” networks controlled by a few large companies.
Matt Filip, a 33-year-old field engineer in Downers Grove, Ill., bought a goTenna earlier this year and has since used it to communicate with friends on hunting trips in remote locations. He said he likes the idea of commanding an alternative network to wireless carriers and plans to set it up at home to support other goTenna users.
I think it’s very telling — and a sign of the times — that Mark Zuckerberg’s personal challenge for 2018 is to think harder about decentralization. I am personally very interested in hearing what incumbents, like Facebook, are going to add to the conversation, and of course, how they’re going to act.
Below is the most relevant part of his post; highlights my own:
I too am very eager to hear what the big incumbents will have to say to the growing wave of popular enthusiasm for decentralization. It’s also telling to hear what they don’t say. For instance:
“With the rise of big tech companies… many people now believe that technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”
There is one big tech company in particular that comes to mind when I read this, a company that is especially responsible for creating the social climate in which so many people have “lost faith” in tech’s ability to decentralize power? It’s on the tip of my tongue, and Zuckerberg’s too, it seems.
This is a short post, but there is, as they say, a lot going on here. If you went through this post and noted down every time he opts to go general rather than specific, I think you would have a pretty good list of questions to think about as the decentralization train picks up steam. A few that leapt out at me:
“There are important counter-trends to this… that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands.”
What kind of power are we talking about? What are the “centralized systems” that have it now? How will technology take it away from them and deliver it to the people? Who are “people” in question?
“But they come with the risk of being harder to control.”
Harder for whom to control? What does it mean to control a counter-trend? How is control different from power?
“I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services?”
What does he mean by positive? What does he mean by negative? Who is he talking about when he says ‘our services’? Facebook? The people? The people doing the control?
Zuckerberg leaves all of these questions hanging. Which is fine, it’s just a short post after all, no one expects or even needs a treatise.
But it does point to one of the things that I think is most exciting about decentralization: we don’t have to wonder how Mark Zuckerberg would answer these questions. We have to answer them ourselves.
Interesting article about the forums that Uber and Lyft drivers are making as community resources, and how that shifts the dynamics of the platform economy.
“Online forums aren’t just helping drivers like Cole navigate the challenges of their work, and helping those of us who use and study these platforms grasp those challenges too. They show how as employment relationships grow more remote and distributed across the network, workers can adapt, using technology to forge their own workplace culture.”
I definitely have feelings about this, but I’m curious what you guys think?
A firsthand account of the device “two yahoos from the middle of Ohio” presented to the DoD - it remotely stops drones in mid-air!
Gotenna mesh should be the “extended bluetooth standard” for burst data communication independent of the internet. It would be very pratical to have a mesh point in every Tesla powerwall as standard equipment.
This is a pretty long blog post, but I would be extremely interested to hear what people on this thread have to say about it: http://blog.dshr.org/2018/01/it-isnt-about-technology.html
This dovetails really nicely with the last article I linked here, in the sense that it highlights the economic and political systems in place that determine internet access in the US.
In the post above, Rosenthal described what he called the “slow AI” of fiduciary logic that compels big tech companies to make decisions in the way that they do. The article below shows how that same “slow AI” - which is really just a very clever euphemism for “prioritizing profits” - leads incumbent ISPs to underperform in a few revealing ways. Interesting read.
“Running an open access network (where multiple ISPs can come in and compete) usually dramatically ramps up this competition. In fact, a 2009 FCC-sponsored Harvard study found that open access networks routinely result in lower prices and better service. The more competition, the better the service, faster the speeds, and lower the rates.”
Who knew that you could put existentialism on the blockchain?
Another example of how decentralization inspires innovation for enterprises is actual blockchain work in the area of identity. Authentication answers the question “Am I who I say I am?,” while identity answers the deeper question — “Who am I?”
The entire 106 acre stand of Aspens in Utah is all a single tree. Every tree is genetically identical, connected by a sprawling underground root structure. It’s a decentralized tree! Some scientists believe it is the largest (by mass) organism on earth.
A natural mesh network!!
Over the weekend some friends told me that Uganda had used Blockchain in a national election!
Well, it turns out my friends know more about Blockchain than they do about African geography & politics. Sierra Leone was actually the country that used Blockchain to tally votes in their presidential election, in partnership with the Swiss company Agora.
According to this article, that makes them the first nation in history to implement Blockchain in a national election: https://cointelegraph.com/news/sierra-leone-uses-blockchain-to-track-election-results-swiss-company-provides-expertise
Somebody sent this to me this morning and I thought “Sweet!”
It’s a wiki for collaborative research about arts, media, and humanities, but their angle on these topics seems to skew a little bit towards the obscure, the DIY, and the retro-technical. Scrolling through the homepage is like walking into a really well-curated used bookstore. Cool stuff!
A few months ago there was a conversation on here about decentralized art. Today I came across this article (from Kamal Sinclair of the Sundance New Frontiers Lab) that provides a taxonomy of emerging media.
It’s really comprehensive, and definitely worth checking out for anyone who is interested thinking about how decentralization can appear in art and storytelling.
UPDATE: The National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone denies that this election was the first to use blockchain. "
“Was Agora simply attempting a PR stunt in support of its upcoming token sale. That’s unclear. What is clear is the disappointment in Sierra Leone regarding their efforts.”