Tuesday, September 14, 2004

All our base are belong to us. not

I seem to keep having to be reminded that technology is only as good as the humans wielding it.

A few links below point to stuff about wireless and wireless mesh. Nice that some places have started mesh projects and are encouraging neighbors to build it out:
The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) has built a communications network using wireless networking equipment. This is essentially the same "WiFi" equipment used in homes and offices, but we put it on rooftops to connect neighbors and form a high-speed community network.
The significance of the technology could lie in how it nudges US communities to start thinking less monadically. Here's an example of the hapless adjacency of monadic communal life: After Hurricane Charley hit Charlotte County, Florida, insurers gathered to process claims. Some moved faster than others, but soon large parking lots in heavily damaged shopping centers were being used as temporary parking zones for mobile trailers sent in by many of the larger insurance companies.

So, on one hand, lots of mobile insurance units set up to serve insurance policyholders, including offering immediate cash to help those who lost homes to cover immediate alternate living expenses. On the other hand, lots of policyholders very eager to talk with their insurers.

Only, it was random. The trailers were scattered all around the county, so the chances of a customer stumbling on his company's trailer (except the high profile ones like Allstate) were less than ideal.

Here, then, was a relatively simple information opportunity: All that was needed was to compile a list of which company was where, then publish it in the local papers, announce it on radio and TV, and post it on, say, the county's emergency office management site. I suggested the idea both to the newspaper and to the office of the county's crack emergency manager, to no avail.

Apparently it does not occur to USians to ease the highly inefficent, wasteful predicaments where easily capturable data could be centralized for rapid, economical dissemination. I suspect this has something to do with what we have learned from capitalism and Frank Sinatra. I found my company (five miles south, in an abandoned Kmart shopping center) only after the adjuster who came to my house told me that they had arrived and where they were. Other people never found their companies (some never even got through to them by phone). Although the temporary "presences" of the insurers were supposed to remain here for months, most vacated ahead of Hurricane Frances, and have not returned.

In sum, the companies made a show of showing up, more or less like FEMA, but neither did they nor did the invariably award-winning purveyors of community news and information in fact bother to improve upon the entropy of sheer randomness. It is this curious mindset that I'm wondering if wireless mesh technology could, if not cure, perhaps alleviate. If USians begin to think about mesh networks, they might also begin to imagine how data, properly integrated, could help a community actually have something in common.

Champaign Urbana Community Wireless Network
Wifi News
Corante Mobile Mesh Networking
Wireless Networking
802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly Networking)
Deploying License-Free Wireless Wide-Area Networks
Building Wireless Community Networks
Wi-Fi Handbook : Building 802.11b Wireless Networks
Daily Wireless
Reiter's Wireless Data Web Log
Wireless Hacks
meshcube
MIT roofnet
OpenAP
RFC 3561
Mobile Mesh Networking
Wifi (Wikipedia)
Free Wifi (Wikipedia)
Lessig
Shirky

4 Comments:

Blogger Jon Husband said...

If USians begin to think about mesh networks, they might also begin to imagine how data, properly integrated, could help a community actually have something in commonSeems obvious, if not even straightforward, that this could be extremely beneficial for "the public good" (right now, it seems like "the public goof").

Does it even require wireless mesh ... wouldn't some coordination/cooperation amongst web sites accomplish some reasonable proportion of advising the public appropriately, as well ?

o"all business/all the time", isn't it ... so doing something such as you suggest would require a business case and value proposition (your posts would serve nicely, transformed into bullet points and monosyllabism), and then an investor to fund doing something, with a more-or-less guaranteed ROI ?

Otherwise, cooperation is left to occur at random, as those who see fit to do so, or for whom it makes sense because of their values, decide to take some action.

Indeed, what is governnment for other than the public good ? And wireless mesh networks seems like such a very obvious beneficial possibility in this technologically-defined (not humanly-defined) era.

9/15/2004 11:55 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Jon, in your lovely country the public good is clearly in evidence in ways it simply is not evident or, apparently, available, to us USian types. A brief theory of why this is would have to include the hypothesis that USians, rather than commit to anything resembling an actual dialogical mode of social intercourse with all the responsibilities that entails, prefer to smile cheesily in a stew of hyprocritical self-aggrandizing puke. As to your question "what is government for?" - yes, I agree, but then if you ask Mr. Bush, he'd introduce some Calvinizing blather about how it's ultimately for those who deserve it - him and a few million of his richest friends basking under the hanging chad.

9/15/2004 2:32 PM  
Blogger Mark Hultgren said...

Hello, I just wanted to post a comment on how well you have put your Blog together. I was doing a search for free home based business and came across your Blog. I personally run my own Blog for free home based businessfree home based business so I know a good Blog when I see one.

10/02/2005 10:54 AM  
Blogger alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

10/03/2005 8:47 PM  

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