Data network connectivity developments, networking business news, and related computing items.
Monday, May 03, 2004
Smart Mobs: Phones, Radio, Elections in Ghana
: "Ethan Zuckerman of Geekcorps notes at etcon panel that the last Ghana election "went considerably more smoothly than the last US national election" due to the use of cellphones and radio to report voting fraud: Whenever someone at a polling place reported fraud, the called the radio station, which broadcast it; the police had to check it out, not having the excuse that they didn't receive a report." 2:11:10 PM
: "Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980's video game sensation Pac-Man. This analog version of Pac-man is being developed in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications graduate program, in order to explore what happens when games are removed from their "little world" of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger "real world" of street corners, and cities. A player dressed as Pac-man will run around the Washington square park area of Manhattan while attempting to collect all of the virtual "dots" that run the length of the streets. Four players dressed as the ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde will attempt to catch Pac-man before all of the dots are collected. Using cell-phone contact, Wi-Fi internet connections, and custom software designed by the Pac-Manhattan team, Pac-man and the ghosts will be tracked from a central location and their progress will be broadcast over the internet for viewers from around the world. " 1:44:44 PM
"Inverse Surveillance" -- What We Should Do With All Those Phonecams: Steve Mann's ideas of citizen "sousveillance" predated the cameraphone phenomena by nearly a decade. [He has] reknown as the longtime online cyborg. He started wearing computers and sent his "eyetap" camera images to the Web way back in 1994. His first reference to his activities as a new kind of newsgathering date back to the day in 1995 when he followed a fire truck to a fire and sent the pictures from his head-mounted camera to the Web ..
In 2000, Mann and his students streamed images directly to the Web when violence broke out at a demonstration by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. If you think about it, this kind of journalism is a breakthrough in at least one dimension: whenever police abused their power in past political demonstrations, they made a point of breaking or confiscating cameras. Whether you are a violent demonstrator or an abusive police officer, it doesn't do a lot of good to disguise your misbehavior by trashing a camera if it has already sent images to the Whole Wide World. ..
"Surveillance" is French for "watching from above," but Mann's ["sousveillance"] is French for "watching from below." If you think about it, there really is little that citizens can do at this point to prevent others from watching, listening, and tracking us – but we are beginning to get the tools to watch the watchers. Mann notes that surveillance is about authorities watching from on high, but sousveillance is a down-to-earth human's eye view; surveillance cameras are usually automatic devices statically mounted on the ceiling, but sousveillance is human-situated and eye-level; activities are surveilled by authorities but sousveilled by participants; surveillance is secret but sousveillance is public."
Here's a practical application: People For the American Way Election Protection: "Volunteer poll monitors make EP an effective advocate for voters and a powerful deterrent to those who would try to deny voters their rights. Trained by attorneys and armed with cell phones that connect them with a lawyers hotline, EP volunteers distribute the 'Voters Bill of Rights at the polls and identify and solve problems as they happen -- not after Election Day has passed." They say they will use cameras in cell phones when possible. 1:12:15 PM
A Fine Mesh
: "public safety organizations such as police and fire departments have emerged as the primary early market for mesh wireless systems. These organizations need instant, secure mobile data connections, but today they are stuck with multiple incompatible legacy systems that don't even provide the necessary capacity. With homeland security a pressing concern throughout the US, public safety agencies are in a position spend money on emerging technologies that solve difficult problems. Corporate and residential deployments may take longer," 1:03:22 PM
The Triumph of Good Enough: Converged devices make headway: "Smaller form factors, better performance, lower prices, and miniaturization of components all play a role. My Treo 600 will never be as good a wireless email device as the single-function Blackberry, nor will it compare to an iPod as a music player. Yet, with a 512 megabyte SD expansion card for those MP3 files, it's quite serviceable for both functions. The same goes for its prowess as an organizer, camera, and Web browser. Moreover, because the Treo runs a real operating system with storage and downloading capabilities, it's more adaptable than the single-function devices will ever be. Shortly after buying the Treo, I added an application to read RSS syndication feeds from my favorite Weblogs, and an MP3 player than can pull in live streaming audio from the Web-based Shoutcast service. Try that on an iPod! My point isn't tied to the particular product. Sony Ericsson's P900, Nokia's Communicator line, Danger's HipTop, and PocketPC phones from vendors such as Samsung and Hitachi are also closing in on converged nirvana. "
And, personal radio too: "Using a Palm application called Pocket Tunes, I can now tap into Shoutcast streaming Internet radio stations from my Treo 600. There is something incredibly cool about this. It's a hideous hack, linking together a series of elements that were designed for other purposes: 12:55:34 PM
Radio Station --> MP3 files --> Shoutcast server --> Internet --> SprintPCS network -- > PalmOS application --> Treo
But that's what's so great about it. The end-to-end architecture and open standards of the Internet means that new applications can take advantage of existing networks and services.. Right now this is mostly an indulgence for early-adopters like myself, but why shouldn't every mobile phone also be a personal radio? "
Nigerian Mobs Alerted By Texting
: From Nov 2002 Howard Rheingold notes "the reported use of texting to summon rioters in Nigeria
Ironically, the blasphemous story published against the prophet has tended to unite the nation's muslims who have not only been unanimous in their condemnation of the story, but have also been sending solidarity text messages on their GSM phones to alert one another on the blasphemy since last Sunday.
AbdulHameed Daramola, a Lagos Muslim told Weekly Trust that he alone alerted over seventy Muslims across the country about the blasphemy through text messages on his GSM since last Sunday when he became aware of the issue"
Electoral Smart Mobs in Kenya
: "For the first time, we Kenyans have more or less agreed that this time we have had a fair election with the highest number of voters turning out to vote. One key instrument has been the mobile phone." Uses: Planning, Campaigning, and Results Dissemination.
"We in the ICT field know this is a best practice on how ICTs can help curb rigging, enhance transparency and keep people together. The two cell phone poviders were licensed less than five years ago and cover most of Kenya and have outstripped fixed lines government provider by more than 300% in that short period. Incidentally, no fixed lines were working in all the polling stations I visited further proving the maxim..Africa telecommunications development will be more wireless than fixed. " 12:45:22 PM
The Secret Source of Google's Power
: Fun read; their long-term comparative advantage may be scale: "Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It's running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It's looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application. While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming. .. What will they do next with the world's biggest computer and most advanced operating system? " More on Google architecture: a note
, a paper
, and a presentation
. 2:05:48 AM