Tag Archives: Community

Size matters

Not long ago, the nation of India decided it was mature enough to allow people to communicate with each other, even poor people (of which there are, as it happens, still a few). Not just talking, which is more or less a habit, but using high quality electronic telecommunications, of which the very cheapest is FM (frequency modulated radio broadcasting, using the medium wave band). Continue reading

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Filed under Accessibility, Broadcast, Communication, Community, Democracy, development, Media, Narrowcast, Radio, Security, Self-help

Less Power, More Power

A Little Energy Goes a Long Way

Somehow the concepts of ‘less is more’ and ‘small is beautiful’ do not ring out loud and clear in the community networking environment. Perhaps they are just too obvious: however, I suspect that for urban-focused networks, with their routers and access points dangling from eaves and out of windows, drawing energy from house utility connections, it is really irrelevant.

In the countryside, things are different. Networks stretch across the kilometers, lonely towers in remote spots relaying signals between clusters of homes, over jungle and desert, from hilltop to distant peak and down to the shaded valley below. In this scenario, efficient power solutions mean less money spent on expensive solar power, generated locally and guarded from the depredations of monkeys and men.

Needless to say, the deliverable goes further. In older systems of information delivery, mankind sought to create efficiency by centralising content creation in one place, transmitting across the world with megawatt transmitters, pumping powerful shortwave signals across the world. What price such efficiency, focusing on the packaging till the words became meaningless, the songs capsuled till the music couldn’t be heard.

How many times have I heard techies and engineers shake their heads and mutter, “There has to be a better way“? In the world of information exchange, evolved and transforming the age-old traditions of information dissemination, we find a semantic that neatly divides the e-Generation from its elders and [not-so-?]betters.

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Filed under Accessibility, Blogroll, broadband, Community, connectivity, Democracy, development, energy, Internet, Intranet, Privacy, Radio, Security, technology, Uncategorized, Wi-Fi

Email and Security

Reading over my shoulder?

People who do a lot of email (I don’t do a lot, not by corporate standards, but I’m not exactly an online recluse), are increasingly concerned by the lack of privacy in this area of communication.

Some of us are keen to see the modes of communication used on the Internet become commonplace for all (hence the title of this blog, in case you just landed up here and are still wondering), and now it is necessary to study how best to handle questions of privacy, when setting up email services on wide area intranets.

Intranets are more or less the same thing as local area networks, but the term refers more to the services running on the network, rather than to its physical infrastructure. The terrific advantage of such services is that they can be set up in a manner that avoids centralised control. In fact, they need not have a centralised structure to begin with.

So what can one do with a decentralised network? The sky’s the limit, almost, and new applications and services emerge almost every day.

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Filed under Accessibility, Blogroll, Community, connectivity, Democracy, development, Email, governance, Internet, Intranet, Media, Privacy, Security, social processes, technology

Radio: broadcasting uber wires

India is such an interesting country, as far as the media is concerned (well, admittedly, for many more reasons, but they don’t really relate to this note). It simply explodes with publications, thousands of them in print, tens of television channels, hundreds of radio channels.Why then, is the situation so parlous as far as community media is concerned? And more to the point, how can we emerge from this morass?

All over the world, there has been a refreshing wave of positive change, as far as the media is concerned. From the 80s, pervasively ‘corporate’ media was the norm, being chronicled in later novels like Jeffrey Archer’s “The Fourth Estate”. From the days of Radio Caroline to the angst of Seattle, there has been a palpable and spontaneous outpouring of desire for media unfettered by hidden agenda.

India is such an interesting country, as far as the media is concerned (well, admittedly, for many more reasons, but they don’t really relate to this note). It simply explodes with publications, thousands of them in print, hundreds of radio and television channels. Yes, hundreds.

Radio is the odd one out, actually. The Indian government was always amazingly open to the print media, conceptually, honouring Gandhiji’s tremendous leadership and tireless writing. Much later, it repeated its proactive attitude to the revolutionary impact of television, which took only a short time to become incredibly pervasive.

While print is widely visible, it has a limited reach, since it demands literacy. Television doesn’t, but the medium is terribly expensive, and that defines its creative quality. Sadly, in a very constricted fashion.

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Filed under Accessibility, Broadcast, Community, Democracy, Media, Narrowcast, Radio, technology, Uncategorized