Divided We Stand

December 18th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Divided We Stand)

Over a year ago this article appeared in Wired Magazine, and its even more relevant today. It talks about how the best way to minimize the damage caused by decentralized rogue terrorists is to decentralize our vunerabilities. It’s completely obvious. But predicitably the response to the 9-11 tragedy has been a further consolidation of power and control. I challenge anyone who doubts my claim that those who in control have no desire to stop terrorism, to demonstrate how a single one of their so-called “solutions to terrorism”, will actually do anything to stop highly motivated maniacs from doing something like this again. So next time we are attacked by terrorists, think about what this articles proposes, and then watch as the response is exactly the opposite. Then you will see who is really to blame for all the mess we’re in.



12/20/02, 9:36am

What did I tell you, from Destroying the Net by trying to protect it.

The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration is planning to monitor all Net communications. The plan would require ISPs to build a centralized system for surveillance of data and users.This is sheer idiocy, because it will actually increase the risks to the national information infrastructure. From its inception, the Net was conceived as a distributed system that could reorganize around failures (in the case of the original designs, the Net was built to route around damage caused by nuclear weapons). Centralizing all network communications to facilitate surveillance will create a huge, ripe and easily attacked target, reducing the reliability and performance of the Internet on the whole and for each individual user. Likewise, the plan would invade the digital borders of other countries, creating many conflicts that don’t impede communication today.

This is foolishness, utter and complete. The benefits we got from the Net will be obliterated by human stupidity, which, if this plan is adopted, will create barriers between people and nations that are as impenetrable as a Prussian bureaucracy.


The End of the Broadcast Nation

December 14th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The End of the Broadcast Nation)

In David Weinberger’s white paper, he writes:

We are not in the age of information. We are not in the age of the Internet.

We are in the Age of Connection.

Being connected is at the heart of our democracy and our economy. The more and better those connections, the stronger are our government, businesses, science, culture, education.

Until now, our connectedness has depended on centralized control points that have been the gatekeepers of our economic and political networks. To speak to everyone, you had to be one of the few with access to a broadcast networks. To sell to everyone, you had to be one of the few with access to a global distribution channel. To achieve office, you had to be one of the few with access to corporate coffers and national media.

But we are on the verge of being able to connect to anyone and everyone, whenever and however we want. No gatekeepers. Ubiquitous connection. Connectedness thatís always there and always on.

This isn’t about getting more TV channels. Change the way we’re connected

and youíve changed everything, from the economy to governance. This is how fundamental transformation ccurs.

In this context, spectrum has nothing to do with electromagnetic waves and auctions. It is far more fundamental: Spectrum is connection.

We will connect. The human drive for connection is too strong to be stopped. The market and the electorate are clamoring for this. Consider just some of
the more obvious changes:

When consumers are connected, we turn off the marketing messages and tell one another the truth about what we buy.

When students are connected, they teach each other and work collaborativelyÖeven if they are still being graded as if each assignment were done alone in a cell.

When citizens are connected, we put our money and our votes with politicians who join the fray. Safe, phony words and please-everyone positions sound more hollow than ever. We want our government to recognize and reflect the values connectedness brings.

When an economy is connected, goods and services move faster. Little players get a foothold against the giants. Innovation skyrockets. Risks are taken and investments are made. The old gatekeepers of connection find their treasure is now a commodity. But that commodity fuels an outbreak of economic
growth that will last for decades.

When a society is connected, it becomes more fair. Broadcasting’s lock on the channels of communication is broken, so more voices are heard and people are better able to determine their own individual and collected fates.

The Age of Connection will begin with a fundamental change in metaphors and a basic reframing of the issues.


Decentralization: Cutting Out the Middle Man

December 13th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Decentralization: Cutting Out the Middle Man)

Scott Rosenberg’s new article in Salon provides a well balanced review of: The geek-driven world of new “decentralized” technologies like Wi-Fi, blogging and Web services is more about cutting out the middleman than finding a business model.

The internet is first and foremost a communication medium, like the telephone, only potentially infinitely more rich. David Isenberg’s elegant view of a Stupid Network with all of the intelligence located at the peers just makes more sense. Attempting to make money by creating the artificial need of a middlemen is ultimately doomed to failure. Only the strong arm of the law could possibly make it otherwise, which is why the policies around Open Spectrum, the Broadcast Flag, the DMCA and others are so important in this crucial struggle for communications liberty over the greed of corporations and the power-lust of governments.

Essentially we are witnessing the birth, a “Supernova” if you will, of people around the world being able to digitally and richly communicate without the need of any middle men for bandwidth or content. This threatens literally the way business and power have always been played. Think of it as analogous to the discovery of a cheap, clean and decentralized energy source without the need of anyone else to provide it. *** Decentralization threatens central power hierarchies ***. So look for the telecom big boys to do everything in their power to prevent such decentralization from occurring. I expect the governments recent branding of Wi-Fi as a terrorist threat, to be the first in a long line of attempts to stop this communications revolution.


Web of Trust Audio News Distribution

December 10th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Web of Trust Audio News Distribution)

Orginal Article on Slashdot:

Wearlab (University of Bremen) has designed a cool web of trust voice message routing system with a decaying credibility metric. It supports xmms and winamp. Source available for Linux and win32. “MPN makes it possible to deliver completely decentralized and independent news. Everyone has the possibility to be a reporter, no filtering publisher is required.

Decentralization via software is really kicking into high gear. The recent Supernova conference brought together some of the best minds on this subject. Decentralization combined with unbiquitous computing has the potential of totally changing the way society operates. Imagine a world, that is already totally information based, except that information is managed by applications and infrastructure that is primarily decentralized. My mind is still reeling from yesterdays conference, so stay tuned. I have a lot to say about where this could be heading. Needless to say, I am very excited.


Supernova: Decentralization and Control

December 9th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Supernova: Decentralization and Control)

Some take-aways from Supernova so far – first the obvious – decentralized networks are simply superior to any other form of network architecture, in terms of redundancy and resiliency. The question is will this technical decentralization actually result in political decentralization? Participatory democracy is possible, but will it ever flourish? Already the Feds consider wifi a terrorist threat. And now the big-boys are creating Cosmeta with the potential of co-opting this technology before it ever gets out of the gate.


Supernova “Decentralization” Conference Opens

December 9th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Supernova “Decentralization” Conference Opens)

Supernova, a conference on decentralization started by Kevin Werbach and the Pulver organization, has started about an hour ago. You can follow a lot of this via two weblogs:

Conference blog

Group blog

Enormous number of bloggers…

Some Running notes:

Kevin Werbach opened with a nice explanation of why decentralization is important — we can’t scale up without it, he notes — and that there needs to be a market around it.

Everytime power is decentralized, new opportunities arise in all kinds of ways, says Howard Rheingold. He wants to look ahead and see how decentralization may give rise to new forms of collective action.

We’re at the beginning of a technology/development cycle, Howard says. Several technologies are converging to create something with its own unique characteristics, as when video monitor and microprocessor got together at the dawn of the PC era. Then, when PC was connected to phone, we got something new again, the Internet. In both cases the users shaped the medium.


The Paradox of the Best Network

November 25th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Paradox of the Best Network)

I found this article of the same title by David Isenberg and David Weinberger. This paper makes a good case why the best networks are the ones least likely to be profitable for the provider. Essentially we are talking about a shift away from centralized bandwidth distribution in the same way that p2p file-sharing networks decentralize content distribution. Original link posted on Infoanarchy.

Telephone companies are not the only institutions goaded by new network technology. We can see from the reaction to today’s Internet that the Paradox of the Best Network is not kind to the recording industry, to book publishers, or to any other group that makes its living by controlling access to content. These groups have already called in the lawyers and lobbyists to protect their current business models. Nor will the new network be popular with any institution, economic, political or religious group that seeks to shield itself from conflicting cultures and ideas.

In fact, the best network embodies explicit political ideals so it would be disingenuous to pretend it didn’t. The best technological network is also the most open political network. The best network is not only simple, low-cost, robust and innovation-friendly, it is also best at promoting a free, democratic, pluralistic, participatory society; a society in which people with new business ideas are free to fail and free to succeed in the marketplace.


Yodel Bank: Anonymous E-Cash

November 19th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Yodel Bank: Anonymous E-Cash)

Thanks to developments in anonymous communication, such as Freenet and the invisible irc project, anonymous digital cash has become a reality. Yodel Bank is offering ‘yodels’ as a form of currency you can exchange with people who you’ve never met outside of anonymous means. For example, you could pay for some web design or a hosting service anonymously, play video poker with real anonymous money on IIP, or make a donation to a charity without disclosing who you are. Yodel Bank is relatively new, but now that you can transfer money over IIP and Freenet, a real vibrant anonymous economy is springing up, and it’s unclear how government will react to this ‘private’ banking.


Freenet Comes of Age

November 8th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Freenet Comes of Age)

Freenet does what people thought the internet was supposed to do – free information from censorship. But as we know, information flows through propietary pipes and exists openly on identifiable servers. This means that not only is our surfing activity and email exposed to prying eyes, but that if certain information is offensive to individuals, corporations or goverments it can be removed. More importantly, it has become increasingly difficult to post information on the internet anonymously. The ability to speek freely, openly, and anonymously assures that ther person can speak their mind without fear of reprisal or even imprisonment or death. Freenet changes all that. Freenet has been a work in progress for over 2 years, and until now it has been cumbersome to use for the average user. Now, with the release of Freenet 0.5 (download here) it has an intuitive and easy to use interface. Freenet works by storing information in an encrptyed, decentralized and distributed manner. Information resides on individual computers on the network. But not even the computer owner knows eactly what information is stored on their machine. What this means is that even if a goverment were to demand that information be removed from Freenet at gunpoint, no one would be able to comply. Once information is published on freenet, its is essentially impossible to remove.


Decentralized P2P Radio

October 10th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Decentralized P2P Radio)

From the article on O’Reillys OpenP2P:

First there was AM. Then FM. Now, the next evolution in radio broadcast technology could very well be P2P.

What could be even more controversial than Internet radio/audio broadcasting–which has made headlines this year over the issue of royalty payments–and P2P file sharing? Probably the merging together of these banes of the music industry. Two P2P clients, PeerCast and Streamer, are exactly that. Without the need to have your own dedicated server, these programs let you stream audio files to other users on a P2P network. Essentially, you can run your own Internet radio station whenever you start up your computer and get online.

There’s only one man to blame for Streamer: Iain McLeod of Warrington, U.K., who describes himself as a “self-employed computer game creator.” Lately, however, the 39-year-old has been finding himself working more on Streamer, a program which he unabashedly describes as “pirate radio for the digital age” and admits that he created it in response to the music industry’s recent efforts to shut down Internet radio stations over royalty payments.”