Wireless Commons has a new manifesto, and you can sign it to show your support. I’ve talked a lot about the all the benefits of open spectrum and making broadband access widely available and possibly someday decentralized enough that we no longer depend on corporate giants for internet connectivity. Thanks to David Weinberger for the information.
In todays Wired, Blogs Make the Headlines.
It’s safe to assume that, before he flushed his reputation down the toilet, Trent Lott had absolutely no idea what a blog was. He may have a clue now. Internet opinion pages like Instapundit, run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, and Talking Points Memo, from leftie political columnist Josh Marshall — were among the first to latch on to ABCNews.com’s brief item on Lott’s racist comments during Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday bash.
I think Blogs are going to do for the left, what talk radio did for the right. I’ve always felt that the so-called “liberal media” was a lie told by the right to justify moving an already conservative media further to the right. But In either case, the importance of this story is that with a sufficient number of blogs, representing a large enough cross-section of society, we’ll get a media that is increasingly balanced and offering more perspectives.
I’m also excited to see Time Magazines Persons of the Year are three women who acted as whistleblowers for large-scale corruption in Enron, Worldcom and the FBI. Hopefully such huge personal risk is recognized for the great service it does for all of us, especially in light of the Homeland Security Act, which now criminilazes such behavior. Perhaps this is Time Magazines way of snubbing their noses at the establishment.
Here’s why Mono is hot: First, it promises to make translating most new Windows programs into Linux fast and easy. That means someday soon anything from Quicken to your company’s supply-chain software could be ported over to Linux with the double click of a mouse. Second, Mono could speed up the development of new Linux applications by as much as a factor of three. “Those are two big battles,” Icaza says. “We are going to win at least one.”
And a story from Salon called Free Software Radio.
Call them hackers of the last computing frontier: The GNU Radio coders believe that any device with a chip should be able to do, well, anything. OK, now imagine the looks of terror on the faces of existing machine makers. Imagine if the only thing stopping your handheld PDA from simultaneously being a GPS receiver, phone, radio or miniature TV was your willingness to download and install some free software program.
Main Website: GNU Radio.
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.
I just read another great article on open spectrum by David Weinberger; something I have hyped here often. I feel I cannot post enough about this, and this is another good piece describing both the short and long-term but also the deep-term effects open spectrum could have on society – primarily that of participatory democracy. Lets hope this time it comes to pass.
- Short term, we will see a sudden breaking free from wireless gridlock: New bandwidth available everywhere. New local radio stations. Wireless connectivity among appliances in the house. Innovations wherever action at a distance or ubiquitous access makes sense.
- Long term, Dewayne Hendricks (founder of The Dandin Group and a member of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council) says that we’re in the position Marconi was in 100 years ago when wireless communications were first invented. We can’t begin to imagine what’s possible, including — and Hendricks is serious about this — Star Trek-style transporters before this century is out.
- Deep term, the unleashing of wireless connectivity will eat away at one of our last remaining social dependencies on broadcast media. Right now, if you want to broadcast you have to get permission from the Feds and you have to have lots of dough. We end up with a society that sits on a couch, facing forward, listening to what people with money have to say. Our freedom is defined by the channel changer nearby. With open spectrum, a bottom-up conversation can begin over the ether, helping to make participatory democracy real.
There are a lot of developments coming our way that could bring back the free wheeling days of the internet before it became completely commercialized and monitored by governments. Technologies like Mesh Networks and high-speed 802.11g wireless gear, now available from Linksys, which will speed up wireless access to 54Mps and still be compatible with existing 802.11b networks. Combine this with cheap wireless devices, anarchistic p2p networks like Freenet and even anonymous e-cash, and who knows what will happen next. But like the internet in 1994, I couldn’t see how it could ever be controlled, yet 8 years later we have a network that is becoming increasingly closed, censored, monitored and proprietary. Currently, I am unable to see how they could bring decentralized wireless networks under control either, so who is to say? This time, I’m really hoping the genie stays out of the bottle.
Wow, Monday morning and already there are plenty of exciting tidbits in the news. The first community based wireless mesh-network is up and running near Devon, UK. You can read about it here. As you may already know, mesh-networks are a disruptive technology because each device acts as a router for all other devices, eliminating the need for a centralized network.
In a recent speech FCC Chairman Michael Powell questioned the FCC’s assumption that spectrum is always scarce, suggesting software-defined radio’s and other new technologies should be allowed to operate on frequencies that are currently un-used or under-used. The speech doesn’t represent any policy changes at the FCC, but these initiatives could open enormous amounts of frequency that could be used for all manner of wireless devices (read: massive mesh-networks!).
An article in the New York Times this morning talks about a startup company in CA that says it will announce WiFi antenna technology today that can give a 2000 ft. range indoors (and up to 4 mi. outdoors). This would be awesome if they really deliver – because with greater range means more robustness and coverage of ad-hoc wireless mesh-networks, further speeding free communications away from centralized power borkers into the common user.
UPDATE: As of March, 2012, almost 10 years later, none of these technologies have never made it the public. The internet is more monopolized, centralized and controlled than ever. To my knowledge there are are no long-range wireless “mesh” technologies available to the general public.