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!