Tagdecentralizing

How Osama bin Laden Used E-Mail Without An Internet Connection

According to the Associated Press’ sources, Osama bin Laden routinely typed e-mails on an Internet-less computer in his compound, saved them to a USB thumbdrive and had a courier e-mail them from cybercafes in nearby towns. Apparently this went on for years, undetected. According to the AP, Navy SEALS found about 100 flash drives that apparently contain series of these e-mail communications.

This is what’s referred to as a sneakernet, and as Internet crackdowns occur all over the world, it may become an increasingly popular way for people to communication.

A couple years ago, in these very pages, Trevor Blake wrote:

Now is a good time to establish lines of electronic communication that are not entirely (if at all) reliant on the Internet as it currently exists. Hand delivery of a stack of media is still one of my favorites. At a certain point it the best bit-per-second value known, it has certain privacy features that can’t be beat and it requires very little technical know-how or fancy equipment or money. For all the gnostic freakout of The Matrix, the scene where a disreputable character knocks on Mr. Anderson’s door and passes him a data disc might be the most prophetic.

Learning about cryptography, fidonet and the postal system won’t do anyone any harm. Nothing beats trusted person-to-person connections established in many only-partially overlapping social / professional circles.

Plan the Government-less Internet at Contact

Contact is an unconference organized by Douglas Rushkoff on the subject of building new, government-less Internets. The event will be held in New York City on October 20 2011.

Here’s part of Rushkoff’s explanation of the event:

At the epicenter of CONTACT will be the Bazaar – a free-form marketplace of ideas, demos, haggling, and ad-hoc connections. If you have visited the Akihabara, Tokyo’s ultra-vibrant open-air electronics market, or the under-the-highway open-air jade market of Kowloon, or even the Burning Man festival, you understand the power of combining commerce, physical location, and serendipity. A decidedly unstructured counterpart to the convened meetings, solo provocations, and the MeetUpEverywheres, the Bazaar will bring p2p to life, encouraging introductions, brokering, deal-making, food-tasting, and propositions of every kind. It is where the social, business, political, and spiritual agendas merge into one big human agenda.

Contact will hope to revive the spirit of optimism and infinite possibility of the early cyber-era, folding the edges of this culture back to the middle. Social media has come to be understood as little more than a marketing opportunity. We see it as quite possibly the catalyst for the next stage of human evolution and, at the very least, a way to restore p2p value exchange and decentralized innovation to the realms of culture, commerce and government.

Content was never king. Contact is. Please join us, and find the others.

Shareable: The Evolution Will Be Socialized

See also: 3 Projects to Create a Government-less Internet and 4 More Projects to Create a Government-less Internet

Klintron Talks Ad-Hoc Networking on Web TV Show

You’ll only hear my voice, though, we didn’t do live video in. I’m talking about the subjects raised in my government-less Internet series. I start about 11:57 minutes in, and I’m followed by Johnny Diggz of Tropo and Geeks Without Bounds who talks about some of the more practical, boots on the ground type stuff people are doing to keep communications networks working during emergencies.

4 More Projects to Create a Government-less Internet

I did a follow-up to my story last week about wireless mesh network projects, adding four more projects to the original list of three.

ReadWriteWeb: 4 More Projects to Create a Government-less Internet

Also, I’ll be on This Week in Cloud Computing tomorrow around 3:45 PST talking about wireless ad-hoc networks.

3 Projects to Create a Government-less Internet

I wrote about three different projects that are working to create a government-less Internet over at ReadWriteWeb:

In Cory Doctorow’s young adult novel Little Brother, the protagonist starts an wireless ad-hoc network, called X-Net, in response to a government crack-down on civil liberties. The characters use gaming systems with mesh networking equipment built-in to share files, exchange message and make plans.

The Internet blackout in Egypt, which we’ve been covering, touches on an issue we’ve raised occasionally here: the control of governments (and corporations) over the Internet (and by extension, the cloud). One possible solution, discussed by geeks for years, is the creation of wireless ad-hoc networks like the one in Little Brother to eliminate the need for centralized hardware and network connectivity. It’s the sort of technology that’s valuable not just for insuring both freedom of speech (not to mention freedom of commerce – Egypt’s Internet blackout can’t be good for business), but could be valuable in emergencies such as natural disasters as well.

Here are a few projects working to create such networks.

ReadWriteWeb: 3 Projects to Create a Government-less Internet

I also wrote a piece on how some Egyptians are getting around the Internet crack down.

On the value of complementary currency

I was a little surprised at the hostility towards complementary currency over at Cryptogon, and since I can’t comment there I will comment here.

The Milwaulkie Community currency thing is obviously nothing new, LETS and Hours programs have been around for years (and Time Banking even longer than that). Like Kevin points out, you still have to pay taxes on your currency. And although I don’t think paying taxes is the worst thing in the world, the need to pay taxes in fiat causes the biggest obstacles for these currencies: you can’t pay your property taxes with ’em. You also can’t pay your mortgage. So getting food producers and landlords to accept alternative currencies is tough, and I’d wager food and rent are most people’s biggest expenses.

So what’s the point then? First of all, LETS and similar systems are a time tested recession-survival tactic (read this and this). They reduce (but don’t eliminate) dependence on fiat and the central banking system, and have enabled economies to keep doing business when fiat currency dries up. Establishing alternative systems now, and not after true systemic collapse (a la Argentina) is wise.

The more individuals and businesses in a community adopt an alt. currency, the more useful it becomes, Metcalf’s Law style. So over time getting food producers and perhaps even apartment complexes on board is plausible. I’d encourage people starting alternative currencies to target small time gardeners and people w/ basements for rent as starting points.

Of course, the real draw backs can/will come when governments feel their monopoly on currency is threatened. Read my article “the New Currency War” to find out more.

The rise of clandestine urban beekeeping

urban beekeeper

Parisians covet the honey of their urban terroir, giving the city’s bees prime real estate in the ritzy neighborhoods around the Opéra and Jardin de Luxemborg. London’s bees were recently awarded best in show—their honey came out top in England’s National Honey competition. Stateside, Bay Area bees give San Franciscans one more reason to feel superior to New Yorkers. Even Chicago, hell, even Dallas has bees on top of municipal buildings, including, in Chicago’s case, City Hall.

But in New York, bees are reprobate and illegal. They appear in the City Health Code’s Section 161.01, along with an enormous list of animals “naturally inclined to do harm or capable of inflicting harm,” lumped in with the truly ferocious/impractical—polar bear, cougar, alligator, whale—and a menagerie of the truly obscure. Actively encouraged by almost every other self-respecting cultural capital, the common honey bee, according to Health Department logic, must be banished along with binturongs, sea kraits, coatimundis, numbats and zorilles. Whatever these other animals are, I bet they don’t pollinate much or produce any honey.

Full Story: Edible Manhatten

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