[iDC] Citizen reports

nick knouf nknouf at media.mit.edu
Sat Jul 29 20:21:41 EDT 2006

Thanks for posting information about a very interesting project.   
Along similar lines, there's a musician living in Beirut who has been  
chronicling his experiences through drawings and posting them to his  


Beyond this, however, and to pull it into one aspect of the  
"architecture" discussion, is the real concern about control of the  
underlying mobile infrastructure.  Right now all of this technology  
relies on a network built and paid for by a commercial/governmental  
entity which has the ability to turn off access at their discretion.   
We've seen the result of this already when in 2004 T-Mobile blocked  
TxtMob [1] messages during the Republication National Convention in  
the US [2].  Perhaps mobile networks overseas are more open or  
community owned; I'd be delighted if that were the case.  But at  
least in the US, in my experiences and understanding, the networks  
are locked down tightly.

All of the emancipatory and liberating applications we can develop  
are ultimately moot if the network providers decline to provide  
access, either because of traffic concerns on the network, or because  
of some political/social/business reason.

This is where I think ad-hoc networking, based initially on the  
bluetooth capabilities built-in to existing phones, comes in.  We can  
use the ability of each phone to talk to each other locally and  
independent of the provider's network.  Imagine a situation where  
people run applications on their phone that pass messages amongst  
each other, bypassing the commercial network.  One node talks to  
another talks to another, passing messages down the line in a  
geographic version of six degrees of separation.  Or where a  
dissident or local can anonymously and transparently pass text/images  
to someone who has the ability to flee a war situation, the text and  
images becoming available when the person is in a "safer" geographic  
location.  This leverages the mobile and transitory nature of many  
modern social networks, potentially enabling the transmission of  
important information and thoughts beyond the physically dangerous  

I'm quite interested in actually implementing something like this,  
and would be glad to talk with others who share this interest.  In  
any event, I believe thinking about mobile data networks beyond those  
given to us by telecommunications companies is necessary to ensure  
that cell phones can be used to their greatest social and political  



[1]  http://txtmob.com/
[2]  http://www.smartmobs.com/archive/2004/09/04/tmobile_blocke.html,  

On Jul 28, 2006, at 12:10 PM, Erik Sundelof wrote:

> Hi all,
> I got an invitation from Trebor Schultz. Thanks for that!
> He forwarded an email from John Hopkins.
> "On one level, sounds great; on another, sounds like "Great White  
> Father"
> (see http://itf.typepad.com/about.html
> <javascript:ol('http://itf.typepad.com/about.html');> ) gives  
> virtual tools
> from a far to fighting children to assuage their misery -- what is  
> the use
> of a virtual tool when bombs are raining down in meatspace?
> I'm suspicious of the raw use of the term "voices being heard."  
> After Eric
> Sundelof listens, what does he do then?"
> A virtual tool is very, very small in comparison to bomb rains.  
> However it
> is something that might help people to digest and seek answers. I  
> am not
> naïve and this is not a simple task. Why ask only what I am doing  
> afterward
> their voices are heard? Why not start to ask what we ALL are doing?  
> Right?
> You should read this blog entry by me to see what I mean as it is a  
> topic
> larger than suited for an email.
> http://inthefieldonline.net/blog/2006/07/27/the-future-of-the-new- 
> improved-m
> edia/
> Cheers,
> Erik Sundelöf
> -----------------------------------
> Reuters Digital Vision Fellow
> Stanford University
> Email: erik.sundeloef at stanford.edu (work)
> Email: erik at sundelof.net (residential)
> Project website: http://inthefieldonline.net <http:// 
> inthefieldonline.net/>
> Blog: http://inthefieldonline.net/blog
> Homepage: http://www.sundelof.net <http://www.sundelof.net/>
> +1 650 646 8003 (cell phone)
> +1 650 324 2454 (residential)
> Address:
> 488 University Avenue, #516
> CA 94301 Palo Alto
> <winmail.dat>
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