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December 9, 2008

Maslow’s hierarchy for geeks on the road

Abraham Maslow is famous for his Hierarchy of Human Needs:


(RageBoy has a different take on Maslow.)

In discussion with Thomas Crampton, we have come up with the Hierarchy of Traveling Geek Needs:

Free wifi
Power outlets

That’s as far as we could get.

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September 6, 2008

[ae] Jonah Brucker-Cohen

Jonah Brucker-Cohen (link link) says open systems encourage audiences to become active co-ccreators, reconfigure rule sets and create opportunities for now types of engagement. He lists some open tools, both hardware (Aduino, Freeduino, OpenPCD, Sun Small Programmable Object Technology) software, and art (Open Museum of Open Source Art). He shows a video of a literal breadboard by Teppien [sp?]. [NOTE: Live blogging. Error-full. Posted without proofreading.]

What are the benefits of subverting network context? Altering rule-sets shifts the engagement structure of a system. Forcing openness creates opportunities for risk or plahy. Hacking into systems challenges their general use.

Public wireless space allows community groups to serve local citizens, creative projects engaging with users. In privatized wireless spaces (e.g., in airports), they’re claimed by individuals. This raises the question: How do we allocate public wireless resources. Two of his projects challenge these relationships: Wifi-Hog challenged Starbuck’s (et al.) assumption that its pay wifi should be allowed to drive out free public wifi. Wifi-Hog blocks everyone else’s use of wifi. Jonah was asking about the acceptable use policy of public wifi nodes and about the promise of the “public sphere as a social leveler” (Habermas).

Wifi-Liberator toolkit (hw and sw) allows you to get around security in locked hotspots. But it only gives you access if you share.

Q: (James) Jamming wifi is to openness as screaming so loud that no one else can hear is to free speech. How does this move us toward openness?
A: It points out the points of control. That’s a requirement for change.

Q: (yochai) How about creating a trivially implementable meshing algorithm for residential wifi.
A: Fon is doing this.
Q: Fon is still commercial and wants to be compatible with the business model of the carriers. [Tags: ]

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September 5, 2008

[ae] Wireless, open Linz

I’m listening to Leon Dubosch via a translator. (German is my best not-English, but it’s not good enough.) Leonard thought about projects that could be done in Linz.

Thomas Gegenhuber now speaks. Art reuses what has been created before. (He quotes Lessig.) What can a municipality do? Linz’s homepage is published under CC. Artists who publish their works under a free license gets more money from the government than those who don’t use free licenses. CC here is the default option, and that should be true for cultural funding.

Jakob p[missed last name] says free software is a matter of rights Protecting free software is a human right. Munich uses platform-independent software. It’s free to adapt it, free to partner, free to disseminate it, and has no license fees to pay. What will Linz have to do to be as free Munich: Decide to use open source software in administration, the business, and in education. Right now, all software in Austrian schools is Windows. Instead, schools should teach skills, not applications. Schools ought to have open source software.

Barbara Hofmann talks open courseware. She points to MIT and open coune.rseware. There are 200 schools that are members of the open courseware consortium. The Univ of Klagenfurt in Austria is a member. It takes institutional interest and organizational backbone.

Stefan Powel talks about web science at Univ of Linz. They want to pull together multiple disciplines, initially for a masters degree, by 2010. Bachelors degree by 2012.

Manuela Hiermair talks about overcoming the digital divide. We need free wifi. Communities can provide free access. In Linz, there are over 100 free wifi access points, and a public internet service provider.

Christian Forsterleitner talks about Digital public space. Every resident should receive a bit of Linz’s publis space, free. There are free storage offers from Google, Flickr, MySpace, etc. NBut you give up your rights and are subject to censorship. “We want public authorities to provide this basic service.” “We consider the Webspace to be a citizen’s right.”

[Time to move to Linz? :) ]

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April 1, 2008

Tim Wu on tech policy

Tim Wu for Head of the Joint Chiefs of Tech!

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Thoughtcloud scrapes neurons

The Media Re:Public group at Berkmanhas announced a breakthrough technology that promises to take the “conference” out of “un-conference.”

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March 25, 2008

Google’s proposal for opening the spectrum for innovation

On the heels of her splendid explanation of the outcome of the 700MHz auction, Susan Crawford explains Google’s proposal to the FCC for the “white spaces.” Here’s my take on her take. (The NYT also has a useful article.) (Note: All errors in the following are mine. I am in over my head.)

Congress has mandated the end of over-the-air broadcast of analog TV signals. This frees up some spectrum. (Spectrum = frequencies = colors) Actually, it frees up a lot of spectrum: the 700MHz auction was for just 22MHz of frequency, whereas we’re now talking about 300MHz of spectrum. So, what should we do with this newly unbound stretch of public airwaves?

We could slice it up and sell it off to private companies. That’s generally what the FCC does with spectrum. And that made sense back in the 1930s when the FCC was created. Radios were so primitive that broadcasters had to be given untrammeled access to a frequency to avoid “interference” with other broadcasts. So, the FCC sold swaths of spectrum to broadcasters, but, recognizing that spectrum belongs to the public, the FCC also placed some requirements and restrictions on broadcasters.

Radio technology has advanced since the day the Titanic’s signal wasn’t decipherable. Not only are radios better able to tune in to particular frequencies and strip out noise, they are also able to respond dynamically. They can, for example, hop around the spectrum to hold on to a particular broadcast, if the broadcaster changes lanes, so to speak, in order to find a less unoccupied frequency. Not only does this sort of “open spectrum” approach promise far more efficient use of available spectrum — more bandwidth, to put it inaccurately — but it means that the government doesn’t have to decide for us who gets to use the spectrum. (For more on this, see David Reed’s explanation.)

Google has outlined to the FCC how it would use unlicensed white space spectrum. It’s proposing conservative approach that moves cautiously toward open spectrum, providing the FCC with a vision for how the white space spectrum might bring enormous benefits.

Google envisions how wireless devices running the Android operating system — Google’s mobile operating system — might use the white space frequencies. Google points out that such devices could help deliver Net access to rural areas, a sore spot at the FCC since the policy of handing the Internet over to a duopoly has kept the rural and the poor in the dark. (Surprise!) But, as Susan writes:

Google suggests that *all* devices for unlicensed use of the white spaces should be required to receive an “all clear” signal for the particular channel where they wish to operate, by using geolocation, checking a database of licensees in that location, and getting permission in advance.

This would achieve some of the objectives of an open spectrum system, allowing for the dynamic allocation of frequencies. Google suggests that they could use dynamic auctions to assign frequencies for limited times and strengths, adding another element of extrinsic control (as opposed to a fully open spectrum approach that depends on the devices negotiating for the airwaves). Further, Google suggests that some channels be kept unavailable for all but some high-priority, specialized uses.

This is a calm and rational approach that could see an enormous blossoming of innovation. Think about how many devices exist because tiny ranges of spectrum have been left unregulated. Opening a big swath of spectrum is like opening up a big tract of land. Who knows what we’ll build once we have the space? [Tags: ]

* * *

Harold Feld thinks Google conceded too much too soon.

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February 17, 2008

Phone company closed on Sundays

After trying the various phone numbers on the AT&T Wireless site, including 1-800-331-0500, 611 from my cellphone, and 800‑288‑2747 from, it seems that AT&T provides no customer service on Sunday. So, if your phone or their software is broken, you are SOL.

Jeez, remember when major corporations acted like major corporations? Or maybe this is how major corporations act.

(There’s gotta be a national security angle to this somewhere. Do terrorists and hurricanes take Sundays off? Yeah, that’s the ticket!) [Tags: ]


February 7, 2008

Worst. Muni Wifi. Ever

Brookline’s public wifi had so much promise. But tonight, when I was sitting in the high school auditorium trying to connect, I found out that the system is only available by the month, which means that it competes with the local wired Internet providers — the lowest priced plan gets you 1 mps for $20/month — but it doesn’t let you connect for an hour if that’s all you need, or let travelers and guests get online as they need. Weird. And really disappointing.

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Later that same day: I received this in reply to my whining email to the wifi provider:

We do have a few locations throughout Brookline that are free for one hour
per day. They are in Coolidge Corner, Washington Square, and Brookline Village. We are going to be adding other time features in the future, however, currently we only have a month to month service with no contract. If you only need it for a month and are outside of the areas that are free
and/or you need service more than 1 hour per day, I recommend that you sign up with the monthly package.

* * *

On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal reports on the French requiring France Telecom to provide competitors with access to the fiber optic cable its laying. That enables competition, which helps explain why “in Paris you can get 50 Mbps symmetrical broadband service for 30 EUR per month.”

Requiring whoever wins the 700mH auction in the US to act as a wholesaler to other ISPs could bring about the same sort of opening of the bit-floodgates.


January 31, 2008

Free Public Wifi explained

David Pogue points to a TechBlog post that explains why we keep seeing “Free Public Wifi” listed on available wifi networks. No, it’s not a fraud. No, it’s not a hoax. Yes, it is maybe the stupidest Windows thing ever. As TechBlog says, it’s viral without being a virus. Or, maybe it’s a virus that is all symptom.

In any case, I’m glad to have this clarified at last.

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December 16, 2007

Tim O’Reilly on what a truly open cellphone network looks like (and an article on Google cloud computing)

Great op-ed by Tim O’Reilly, holding out the greed stick to the cellphone companies to induce them to open their networks.

[Tags: tim_oreilly open_networks wireless cellphones telcom net_neutrality ]

Stephen Baker has an excellent, provocative article on “cloud” computing, where “cloud” means gigaclusters like Google’s and not the great amorphous mashup of information known as the Internet.


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