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Intl Summit for Community Wireless Networks

October 1st, 2013 by

Hey errbody.

Just wanted to give a heads up as to what’s been going on in Berlin town. The
past three days have been the Circumvention Technology Summit, though I haven’t
been to many sessions. Mostly I’ve been catching up with contacts and having
more intimate conversations.

Pau and Roger are here, but they’ve been tied up in Confine meetings. The
wireless summit starts tomorrow morning, and I’ll be giving a talk in the
afternoon on some ideas for managing contention in networks. I’ve been preparing
for that quite a bit, as well as laying groundwork and having conversations
about the NCL. Jurgen Neumann, one of the founders of Freifunk is enthusiastic
about the project, and had some major insights. I’m hopeful that there will be
some significant opportunities to push the project forward over the next few
days.

I also received an invitation to speak at a conference in London on the 19th,
and so I’m considering extending my stay in Europe. Fairly concerned about this,
as I feel like KCFN is in a delicate place, and the engineering studies and LPFM
license application are not fully cooked, though they’re close. Not really sure
what to do in this regard. The even is fairly high profile, and I think would
probably help make inroads in the arts/culture world. As I’ve said before, I
think that’s really where we should be looking for patronage.

In any case, trying to figure out if the even organizers can help me out
financially. If not, I don’t think I can do it, as I haven’t got the money to
stay in Europe for that long on my own dime. We’ll see what they say. Would also
really like peoples’ feedback on the matter. Ty? Clint? Charles? James? Gordon?
Anybody? Thoughts?

anyways, that’s my update for now. Doesn’t sound like much, but the value of
events like these are slow-cooked, and generally not immediately apparent. I
will say that it is amazing how quickly the FNF has become a part of the
libtech/free network landscape, and how many friends we have here. Always good
to remember that we’re not alone.

much love from across the sea,

imw

Cryptobiotic

September 11th, 2013 by

Out in canyonlands, nature has this nifty thing called cryptobiotic crust.
Cryptobiosis:
Cryptobiosis is an ametabolic state of life entered by an organism in response
to adverse environmental conditions such as desiccation, freezing, and oxygen
deficiency. In the cryptobiotic state, all metabolic procedures stop, preventing
reproduction, development, and repair. An organism in a cryptobiotic state can
essentially live indefinitely until environmental conditions return to being
hospitable. When this occurs, the organism will return to its metabolic state of
life as it was prior to the cryptobiosis.

When we were out in the desert this past week, we cracked a lot of crypto jokes
about the crust dirt. On the real, though, I think we’ve got a lot to learn from
the dirt. It takes hundreds of years for cryptobiotic crust to fully develop. It
bides its time in a place that seems incapable of supporting life, and then
springs to action at exactly the right moment. Patience is everything. Timing is
everything.

I apologize for the extended radio silence, but I think it’s important to
periodically reboot. Too much cruft in /tmp. Happy to report that my personal
reboot was sucessful, and that I’m coming back online.

The past few weeks were certainly momentous. We succeeded in overhauling the
Kansas City Freedom Network from a bridged network to a routed one. We’ve got a
custom spin of guifi’s qmp firmware, which uses bmx6 for routing. The network
is performing well.

We also surveyed two very large areas of Kansas City, and are now working on
engineering studies. One will go to the Kansas City School District, and the
other will go to a group of neighborhood association in the Swope Park area. I
think it’s a big opportunity to put a lot of the design patterns and philosophy
behind the KCFN into writing. I’ve got a working draft, and should have
something ready for review in a day or two.

Roger, Pau and I travelled west, driving through the endless harvest. We saw the
desert, the mountains, the ocean, all the splendor of this unique and
schizophrenic continent. We consumed and were consumed.

There is something about moments of elation and frustration — they bind people
together. Shared experience is the fabric of understanding. After the stressful
marathon that was our time in Kansas City, spending long hours together in
Tyrone’s car, facing forest fires and closed passes, and climbing peaks and
seeing waterfalls and finally finding the ocean, I think I’ve got a much better
understanding of who we are, together. Real conversation doesn’t happen in
meetings — that’s where you do broing stuff. Real conversation happens on the
plains of eastern colorado at 1am.

We face different challenges from guifi, but if we are to succeed, it will be by
leaning on each other, learning from each other, and pulling in the same
direction.

Our short visit to Oakland was fantastic. There is something really cool
happening there, emanating from the sudo room hackerspace. The thursday night
mesh meetup turned into a very productive chance for sharing knowledge between
groups, and discussing the NCL. I think there is a lot of momentum behind the
NCL now. It’s critically important that we not take it too far on our own terms.
With the International Summit coming up in a couple of weeks, I think it makes
sense to wait on making any substantive changes, so that we can formalize the
coalition around the NCL and make sure that all stakeholders are on equal
footing. More on what we discussed in an NCL thread, but I think we made a lot
of progress, and have got a really sound idea.

I leave for Berlin in a little over two weeks, and in the intervening time,
we’ve got a couple of sites to build, our first streaming event over the
network, a engineering study to get out, and a whole lot of work to do
formalizing the KCFN gov structure. (Simply saying ‘consensus’ is not enough’).

The day before we left for the West, I quit my cafe job. Very very glad to have
done that, but also back to wondering how best to subsist. I think it might be
time to finally push on the financial front, and get the FNF to a place where it
is A) not broke B) capable of paying a small stipend.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the prospect of getting a bus and going
technomad. I think we should do a crowdfunding campaign, but that’s something
we’ll need to think out.

Glad to be back here, though also a bit sad for such an amazing experience to be
over. Nevermind that, though — there are so many days of struggle and love yet
to be experienced.

peace, love, and networking,

imw

Upwards, Onwards, Always

July 31st, 2013 by

A general update:

There’s been a lot afoot here in KC. I don’t remember exactly where we were when
I last updated, but I’ll just go from where I think it makes sense. About a week
ago, we had all the phase one infrastructure built and powered on. Started to
notice a problem with the rocket+dish rig that goes from posada to the link. At
first we thought it was related to thermals — tried removing some RF shielding
that we thought might have been the issues, but periodic power cycling
continued. Last Friday, Rashonda, James, Tyrone, Clint and myself reran all
non-uv rated ethernet cables at Posada with Carrier Grade cable. Power cycling
went away. :-) Probably wasn’t getting the voltage that it needed over a
degraded 120m run.

Last Thursday, had the first of what I hope will be many, many KC Freenet
governance meetings. In attendance were 2 people each from Reconciliation
Services, MMF, FNF, and Connecting for Good. I thought the meeting went
swimmingly, and the coalition really seems to be coming together, starting to
lean on each other, etc… Can’t wait to see what the next meetings bring.

Following the gov meeting, I talked with Michael and Rick about moving on an
engineering study for the school district. They had been contemplating using
some of the funds to bring in expert help, and I suggested Pau and Roger from
guifi.net. Michael and Rick approved, and I had a 30-minute chat with Pau and
Roger this morning. If all goes according to plan, they will be here in a few
weeks time. :-) :-) :-)

Personally, I found new lodging, renting a room in a friend of a friend’s house.
I like the neighborhood, and the price is right, and I’m glad to have something
figured out, so that I can stop worrying about it :-) It really is nice to have
a room of one’s own (though I can already see how a home of one’s own would be a
world apart).

On Sunday, I had an excellent call with Jefferson Hack, who is the Director of
the Dazed Group, and alternative media conglomerate out of London. Jefferson saw
the interview that ran in Dazed and Confused’s May Issue (it’s their flagship
magazine), and wanted to speak. He offered to aide the cause in any way that I
can, and judging by who he is and what he brings to the table, that’s no small
offer. It will take some time to flesh out how we can best work together, but I
have confidence that he will be a major asset to the movement.

Not %100 sure yet, but travel funding for the International Summit is looking
pretty good. They said they’re going to start notifying folks in the next couple
of weeks, so I’ll know soon.

Anita is planning a press conference for the 27th to unveil the Vine Street
Network, and I’m thinking that we’re going to be in a really good place by then.

Lots of hurdles cleared. Now that the storage array is back to full capacity,
I’m feeling much better about where we’re at. Need to rebuild mail (oldest item
in my todo). Other than that, I think it’s high time that I spend a few days
calling supporters, asking if they will help us meet our overhead. Lots of
monthly contributors have trailed off over the last six months, and we haven’t
done nearly a good enough job bugging them to stay current. Our monthly cashflow
is seriously negative at this point, so I think this is a high priority.
Donations are finally working, integrated with civi. Go time on the drive.

I’m sure there are things that I’m missing (that’s why I should update more
frequently). Need to get up to speed with Anita on Low Power FM stuff. Need to
start thinking about Lincoln Prep build. Will probably transition to routed
network when Pau and Roger are here.

As I said,
onwards, upwards, always,

imw

The Trap

July 1st, 2013 by

I’d say the future we can see today is rarely the future that comes about — not
in the long run. The technological clock *can’t* be turned back. Like time’s
arrow itself, it only moves in one direction. That’s why it is important, as
many have said before me, to invent the future. If we souls of conscience can
focus our energies, learn to cooperate with one another, letting go of our fear
that someone else will get the credit, then we can surely reclaim our future.

It’s easy to fall into the moneytrap — a mode of thinking that says it is
liquid capital, for lack of a better term, that moves the world. This is not the
case — the world is moved also by raw ingenuity, genius, and truth. Money is
just an amplifier, and at present, it is amplifying a weak and noisy signal —
the result is a distorted mess. Play beautiful music, even softly, and people
will listen over the noise.  It is easy to think that unplugging from the
amplifier will mean that you don’t get heard: why resign from Harvard Law? Why
take leave of the beltway? Why stop getting paid to work on ‘big data’? Why quit
Google?

Because original thought rarely occurs under the hungry eyeballs of a myopic
horde. Ideas that take the long view, in this age, are rare and reviled —
they’re too chunky to be pulverized and ‘fed’ to people. Yet in the end, it is
these ideas — the ones that take the long arc as their frame of reference —
which will win out. This is precisely because they are built to last.

We can reclaim the EM spectrum, if we have better, more efficient ways of usage.
We can reclaim, or claim, the commons that is Internet (the idea), if we are
ingenuitive enough to anticipate and create future technology. We can make it
difficult for the surveillance state, if we stop engineering infotraps, and
start engineering tools that help people: distributed social networks,
freedombox, user-friendly crypto, material peer-to-peer, cooperative autonomous
systems, new currency, new machinery, new social frameworks.

At this moment, there’s no real excuse to be making technology that’s not politically
progressive — not in my book. Too much hangs in the balance — and the linkage
between what we engineer, and what our society will become is just too strong.

Found Our Feet

February 1st, 2013 by

The minutes and the updates,the reportbacks don’t quite capture it. There was something magical about the summit that we had in Austin this past weekend. We found our feet again. After a long time on the mat, it sometimes got to feeling like we were out for the count. The FNF made a big splash in 2011, and in 2012 we turned inside — sometimes at the expense of our so-called ‘mindshare’ and sometimes as the expense of adequately communicating with those of you that care enough to read this. We let e-mails go unanswered as we focused on building a foundation.

Last weekend we found a new direction. This doesn’t serve as an official announcement, and I won’t get into our plans here (you can join the mailing list if you want to know), but I will say that for the first time in a long time, all of us at the FNF are feeling genuinely sanguine. It feels like the summer of 2011 all over again: everything new, everything urgent.

It takes courage to reinvent – or to become what you were always becoming. In some ways it feels as though we’ve shifted course, and in some ways it feels as if we’ve kept the rudder steady and true since we set out almost two years ago. There are bound to be more challenges ahead, bigger challenges. There are bound to be rough spots, things that don’t go as planned, delays and disappointments. But now more than ever, it feels as if there is bound to be a movement toward the world that ought to be but isn’t, what’s just out of our grasp. We are going to get there. We are as committed as we’ve ever been — as committed as we could possibly be to the idea that the network ought to be a commons. For a while it felt as though we had run our course — but it feels now as if we’ve turned the corner, and there’s a long, open road unfolding before us. We’ve found our feet again — it’s time to walk.

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