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<nettime> wireless commons digest [stalder, elloi]
nettime's_forking_tendencies on Tue, 31 Dec 2002 19:29:21 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> wireless commons digest [stalder, elloi]

Re: <nettime> The Wireless Commons Manifesto
     Felix Stalder <felix {AT} openflows.org>
     Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com>

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Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 14:31:51 +0100
From: Felix Stalder <felix {AT} openflows.org>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Wireless Commons Manifesto

A while ago, I posted to nettime an article [1] originally written for Mute 
[2] on the potentials of broadband. A few days ago Michael Gurstein 
forwarded the post to a wireless list on which it generated the below 
reply. Since it co-incides with the Wireless Commons Manifesto being posted 
on nettime, I thought it might be interesting look again at the promise of 

However, there are important structural differences between a wireless 
commons and a broadband infrastructure, so the fact that one didn't deliver 
as expected does not prove that the other is doomed. Also, I think the jury 
on broadband is still out. So far, peer-to-peer technologies have been 
rather interesting, though in a very different way than the socially 
sensible applications referred to in the below post.


[1] http://amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0206/msg00113.html
[2] http://www.metamute.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Don [mailto:donhome {AT} mudgeeab.com.au]
Sent: December 30, 2002 2:26 AM
To: broadband-wireless {AT} vancouvercommunity.net
Subject: Fw: [BB-Wireless] FW: <nettime> where has all the bandwith

Hi Mike and all,
This post (where has all the bandwidth gone) offers a somewhat depressing
outlook for promotors of broadband wishing to provide tangible benefits for
the disdavantaged of our world... "The Bad" and "The Ugly" are aptly
supported by references to acknowledged security issues as well as to (the
predicted / expected) monopolisation of bandwidth by a few major commercial
content providers.

Seeking some hope from "The Good"; with some dismay I note the only
references given are to: 1) SETI - an acknowledged narrow-band innitiative
which has as much to do with utilising compression technologies to better
manage narrow-band as it does with distributed computing. Most SETI
proponents cite the success of the project as one reason why we do NOT need
broadband; and 2) Napster and Freenet... We all know what happened to
Napster, and Freenet (the only example of any merit) still offers very
little in terms of community development potential.
After all these years the question still remains... Where are the examples
of the benefits of broadband?

The great hopes of broadband promotors (and I suppose myself included) over
Tele-Medicine and Tele-Education have largely come to nought as commercial
and cultural realities crash-home one by one. Australia has one of the best
public health systems in the world and we are now into our seventh year of
broadband deployment... yet we have nothing to show in the area of
Tele-Health other than a few very small (and heavily subsidised) showcase

The reality of Tele-Medicine is that providing adquate bandwidth equates to
less than 5% of the project and is in itself only one of a great number of
preliminary tasks (in retrospect something any competent network
administrator probably could have warned us about). Tele-Medicine will never
become a main-stream reality without a major re-construction of our entire
medical system coupled with significant cultural change amongst medical
practitioners. The true benefits of Tele-Medicine are still decades away.
Tele-Education (the other great hope) is even more depressing... Last year I
enrolled into a university ICT degree as (a rather mature aged) DE Post-Grad
student. My expectations were to find a heavy use of ICT's by Universities
in recognition that it was these same institutions who were amongst the most
vocal during the '90's about the need to "network our nation" with broadband
for DE educational purposes. Most universities lobied Government very
heavily to invest in broadband citing a need to improve remote and distance
education through the use of ICT's. They were largely successful; the
network has now been in place for quite a few years; so at a minimum I
expected my tuition to include web-casts and (hopefully) higher-level
on-line audio/video interaction with lecturers and other students (at the
very least a few Internet chat's or two with lecturers during Q&A

The unfortunate reality is that most universities are still doing well if
they provide a basic web-site and a few Email lists for the use of DE
students. Most modern course material remains paper-based (and very
expensive); a disturbing number of university professors and lecturers are
still uncomfortable with the use of ICT's (I was amazed to find a
substantial number who still do not know how to use Email or flatly refuse
to receive submissions by e-correspondence for reasons of parochial or
cultural inhibition); and most university administrators are seemingly
unsupportive of any concept that requires an investment in ICT's to enhance
student access to university services.

My 'gut-feel' is that we have now passed the point where any improvements to
connectivity will offer community development potential without a
substantial refocus on the culture of the major end-points of our network
(universities, hospitals and other public institutions). Private enterprise
is obviously at the fore of network developments and services; our
communities are adopting the technologies as readily as ever; our
Governments are mostly keeping pace with developments and are beginning to
offer a good array of on-line services... Yet our educational and health
institutions are noticeably lagging further and further behind as the
network continually outstrips the services they offer. This is not a funding
issue; most universities and hospitals have massive Internet pipes and more
than enough capacity to provide basic on-line services; it is a cultural and
ethical issue requiring an acknowledgement by these institutions of the need
for them to "live-up to their end of the on-line bargain".

Universities in particular must be made to reassess the merit of continuing
to conduct closed-door conferences and seminars; of deliberately restricting
access to knowledge and services by not providing on-line accessibilities;
of only publishing in "hard-print", and of only providing and/or accepting
paper-based submissions - in total these actions continue to build the wall
between universities and proponents of free-knowledge (ICT-based) societies.
We must somehow bring these institutions into the 21st century if we are to
ever help our communities develop and recoup our massive investments in

I tend to think we have reached the point where encouraging even one
university lecturer or doctor to converse with a student / patient by Email
is probably worth more to us than laying another 1,000km of fibre-optic
cable... although I suspect the cultural and power-base issues that
motivates some of these professionals and institutions to not enter a more
open and equal society (our on-line world), will be tough eggs to crack, and
will probably necesitate some careful and considered political manouvering.

Rgds, Don


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Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2002 17:08:13 -0800 (PST)
From: Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Wireless Commons Manifesto

> NOTE: Anyone can sign The Wireless Commons Manifesto

OK, so we are in for another reincarnation of barlowish self-aggrandizement bs.

("Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I
come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind." No shit.)

This kind of drivel was what killed almost all hopes for Internet. Now you are
trying the same with the wireless.

Let's try to understand few facts. They are simple and obvious.

> Low-cost wireless networking equipment which can operate in unlicensed
> bands of the spectrum has started another revolution. Suddenly, ordinary

The un-license-ness is there because of current (dis)interest and temporary
benevolence of powers that be. It will go away overnight when the probability
that it will truly infinge on the corporate realm exceeds 0.1%. I think that
there was a slight miscalculation on the part of FCCs of the world, but nothing
that cannot be remedied with a simple decree. Witness the preparations for that
decree - for instance, US military concerns that 802.11* may annoy their

The current wifi window will close soon, as well as internet one did. Any site
in the world can be taken down in few hour's time. So much for the new home of

Basing any "community" or "lovers messaging" on the ephemeral mercy of the
corporate world is silly. It is just helping that world to coopt whatever is
left from free-range chic^H^H^Hommunity.

Or maybe you have plans that I am unaware of to produce the required equipment
outside state-controlled choke points ? And to provide means of undetectable
use of the same ?

If you don't, your enterprise is as pathetic as mold growing around a leaky
pipe. When the pipe is fixed, the mold dies. And in the process you will
harness enthusiasm and energy in vain, on the false premises.

(of original message)

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