4.0 out of 5 starsDeep Insights, A Couple of Misses, Certainly Recommended as Core Reading, November 8, 2014
A hold over from my time in Afghanistan, I finally got around to reading this book on a long flight and give it a solid four stars. There is some very good eye opening stuff in this book, including some facts I itemize below that I plain did not know before. However, the author is also very wrong on a couple of key points, I address those at the end of my review when I suggest ten other books to also read. I do respect this book and the author’s candid useful appraisal, and recommend it to anyone thinking about how criminally insane our US national insecurity/fraud system really is. We are our own worst enemy, and as Martin Luther King said before he was assassinated for saying so, “the greatest purveyors of (illegitimate) violence in the world.”
At a meta-level, this is a five-star read and absolutely worthy of being included in any orientation collection. Meta points I salute:
Background on why the public must take back control of the communications infrastructure while providing universal free access to all. Background on guifi.net in Spain and Kansas City FreeNet. Discourse on Network Governance. “It Must Be Done” summary and credo by Isaac Wilder. Conclusion includes “Not an End but a New Beginning by Jeff Michka and Comments from Dave Hughes.
Importance for Self-Determination. Introduction onf “Do It Ourselves” as antidote to tyranny of the corporate state, enabling free and open networks. History of guifi.net growing to 4,000 nodes. How guifi.net runs at scale — challenges secular power. LocalRet as a learning experience. The ecology of guifi.net. The operation and governance of guifi.net. Promoting fiber optics. AlterMundi in Argentina. Kansas City Renaissance. Fedeation of French Data Networks (FFDN). Ecuador commits to an open commons-based knowledge society.
The Internet as an agent of local empowerment. i2cat and Living Labs. Entire cities as citizen laboratories. Emerging innovation ecosystems require a change in attitude on the part of city government. Appendix on i2cat projects in 2011. A guifinet – i2cat collaboration scenario. Seizing one’s local economy from the bottom up in Oakland, California.
I am honored that Eva Waskell has entrusted me to present The Privatization of Our Democracy, a work that I regard as her Profile in Courage. For 25 years she has labored to correct what is possibly the most significant public policy failure of the computer age—the privatization of vote counting carried out under the rationale that computers are simply automatic calculators that can tabulate votes more cost effectively than old analogue machines. I have known her for 19 of those years.
. . . . . .
People think they know that something is wrong with the way elections are conducted in this country. They are correct. There is. But readers only now will get access to a full history of the abuse of public trust by the elected politicians of the United States of America. That’s a large claim to make, but see for yourself.
I believe that there are multiple publications here in what Eva has to say. The scholarly monograph. An Elections for Dummies paperback. A paperback of humorous tabby cat photos where the kitties are running elections. Eva is a national treasure and I am proud to be able to use the Internet to make her story known. Fortunately, there are many, many public spirited citizens left.
A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at TEDxUSC, in which I laid out the basic argument for MondoNet, a new project I’m working on with a few of my grad students at Rutgers. My basic point is that, despite the many amazing cultural, economic and political uses to which it’s been put, the Internet has a fundamental flaw preventing it from being an effective tool for democratic political action and cultural innovation.
The flaw lies in its centralized architecture and hierarchical governance; no matter how much people resist against institutional power through innovative cultural forms, and no matter how much we lobby against oppressive and exploitative uses of the technology (e.g. the current battles over net neutrality), the network provides its operators with an excess of power that will necessary be exploited.
We propose to remedy this situation with an architectural intervention: namely, using ad-hoc, mesh networking technology to create a global network that is fundamentally resistant to censorship, surveillance and exploitation, because no single individual or institution can control the information flow on any significant scale.
Clearly, there is a lot to discuss here; we plan to publish a full-length academic article in The Information Society in July, and a pre-publication copy can be read at MondoNet.org. But we’re still working on developing funding and fleshing out the engineering, so I welcome your feedback, criticisms and offers of help!
From BSA listserve: Excellent article on integration of 3G, LTE, Wifi and land lines i.e.- 5G networking. The only thing missing is this article is the 5th “G” – green networking. With so much overlapping coverage from the different wireless and wired nodes you don’t need five nines reliability for each node. Individual nodes can therefore be powered with small solar panels and micro wind mills. This is also great opportunity for R&E networks to partner with carriers like Vodafone and others who are building integrated Wifi/LTE networks and use Eduroam to extend reach of their networks for personal health research applications, sensor networks built around smart phone etc. For more details please see http://goo.gl/W9mla and http://goo.gl/a1Lpz – BSA] 21st Century Triple Networks: Ubiquitous 4G, WiFi, & Wires
The best engineers on the planet are coming to the same conclusion: a hybrid 4G/WiFi/landline network is the way to meet mobile demand. Folks like John Donovan of AT&T and Masayoshi Son of Softbank in Japan had this vision around 2007-2008. As the iPhone/iPad/Android made the coming demand clear, networks planners around the world evolved similar strategies.
• 4G gives wide coverage but is limited in capacity.
• WiFi actually provides far more capacity, because the range of perhaps 100 meters means the spectrum can be reused thousands of times in a major city. (China Mobile is putting 20,000 WiFi hotspots across Beijing.) A network builder tells me “WiFi is a solution to off load ‘portable’ traffic where possible and rely on 3G/4G for ‘mobile’ traffic.” Femtos and perhaps small cells will play a significant part.
• Landlines effectively have 10x the capacity of a similar wireless network and are already ubiquitous from both telco and cable. A top engineer tells me “The general rule is the quicker you can get the byte of information onto a hard facility (copper, fiber) the cheaper it is to operate the network.” Randall Stephenson of AT&T explains “You’re always going to have to have a fixed line capability to offload this traffic.”
So cell tower 3G/4G ideally is supplemented with local WiFi/femto. Cell towers cover large areas, allowing comprehensive coverage except for a few dead spots. They offer limited bandwidth over that entire area, with a network like Verizon’s LTE offering perhaps 35 megabits to share. WiFi is much lower power, limiting range to a typical 100 meters or so, less with obstructions. Within that range, the capacity is high; 3×3 MIMO 802.11N can carry 100’s of megabits in a small area. Locally, 802.11 uses spectrum more efficiently, incorporated a limited set of “spread-spectrum” type features.
WiFi was in few phones two years ago because it ran down batteries too quickly and cost too much. Moore’s Law now enables low power, low cost WiFi. The latest chips from RALINK/Trendchip, for example, cost less than $5. Off mode power consumption is 0.012 mw, transmit power is 19dBm, and the chips are 5 to 7 mm square. Easily 3/4ths of the phones sold by a carrier like Verizon will soon have WiFi as do just about all tablets. As Qualcomm, Broadcom and others include WiFi on their primary cellphones chips it will become ubiquitous.
Carriers are choosing different strategies to get from where they are today to triple networks. Vodafone, Europe’s largest wireless company, is adding millions of DSL customers through unbundling and giving them femto+WiFi gateways. Sky in Britain is buying a WiFi network named “The Cloud.” Free.fr enables WiFi on their millions of DSL connections and bought a wireless license. AT&T is putting WiFi hotspots from Times Square NY to San Francisco with expansion plans. China Mobile is adding 1,000,000 hotspots.
Tip of the Hat to original poster Bill St. Arnaud.
Phi Beta Iota:Gordon Cook thinks very highly of Bill St. Arnaud, and observes that Mr. Arnaud is a consultant for Surfnet in the Netherlands working out their wireless cloud for the research and education community in that country of some 1,000,000 out of 16,000,000 people. He is describing some of what he is building that is based on the Netherlands national fiber backplane.
The COOK Report serves an international community of thought leaders focused on strategy affecting the Internet as a global utility that is critically important to the advancement of education, science, and the economy of every nation that it touches. The COOK Report sponsors an international community of interest limited to 200 industry visionaries. Subscribers gain access to the Economics and Architecture of IP Networks mail list [Arch-econ] now in its seventh year. Arch-econ is a private creation space offering a unique online discussion where industry leaders share knowledge and develop ideas.
Testimonial (one of many): “Gordon Cook is fiber in a world of dial-up. He asks timely and provocative questions, invites leading practitioners and experts on all sides to debate them online for several weeks, cuts to the heart of the debates, and publishes the results in language that serious lay readers can understand. No other online journal matches the Cook Report’s combination of richness of content and accessibility.”
Phi Beta Iota: A member of our collective met for four hours with Gordon Cook, and came away deeply impressed. He is a very difficult man to interview, with so much knowledge of the Internet across the spectrum from governance to corruption, from technical to standards, from abuse to world-saving potential, that focusing in on any particulars is a time-consuming task. Having said that, when he does produce a product, it is brilliant, replete with detail not to be found anywhere else, and for those who care about an Autonomous Internet, priceless. We strongly recommend his private list which is by subscription (link immediately above).
The Dutch, unaffected by the corruption that plagues the US government and its corporate patrons (aptly documented in Matt Tabbi’s GRIFTOPIA), have done it right. They have built Roger Karraker’s “Highways of the Mind, done so from the bottom-up, and recognized the massive efficiencies that come from a combination of optical paths and clever holistic architectures that allow data to move at lower levels when the fit is right. The Dutch are deep and holistic; the US is superficial and corrupt. That’s the story.
in a world of constant flux a person who is not curious is screwed.
John Seeley Brown
In the past eight weeks as I have become more familiar with Internet2’s award to build a backbone to connect upwards of 200,000 unified community anchor institutions into a national network and have put this knowledge alongside that of the peer to peer open knowledge resource Commons represented by Michel Bauwens, I had a gut feeling that somehow someway there is a connection yearning to be made between these two very disparate groups. There is nothing overly obvious in my construct. It is just a tacit feeling that there is a huge potential here.
One thing that I observed from listening to the lecture that I did not get out of the book is that there are ever evolving ways of interpreting one’s surroundings and what is happening. JSB used the same two examples of self-taught surfers in Hawaii and World of Warcraft generation of knowledge that he did in his April 2010 Power of Pull lecture. But by late June 2010 he had evolved these concepts in new interesting and refreshing ways. One point in the lecture that was quite critical indeed was the concept of study groups in the learning 21st-century terms as opposed to education the 19th century term. Success now is found to be dependent to a very large extent on one’s ability to form study groups and that these groups could enable a self-motivated socialized learning experience that a more solitary approach to some rigid curriculum could not. And of course in the world of constant technology change the idea of a rigid curriculum is found wanting.