Action timed, envisioned..

Despite the numerous claims raised by UK councils and GLA to establish public wireless service for all, few examples have made it out of the boardroom and even then, fall to commercial pressure or operational chaos before long.

mazi_logoWe are hopeful that the very recently awarded fund for MAZI project starting early in 2016, will re-energize interest and activity along Deptfords Creekside, with a program supporting development of local innovation over the next 3 years that will galvanize existing networks and promote fresh collaborations.

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This image is taken from the roof above the DAGE shop on Deptford High Street, one of the dozen surviving OWN nodes which continues to offer public access and mesh with the other points in the area. It retains a unique status in London, an operational model of ‘collectively owned and operated broadband infrastructure’, but by just a thread!

lateralaniBuilding and co-coordinating public access networks is very tricky and time consuming operation but increasingly affordable and relevant. As we wake up to the realities of state surveillance and data mining of our interactions, we may well find the recent interest in off-line networking adds a layer of obscurity that’s preferable.

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Unblock head

ODI-logo-medApplications for the ODI – Open data summer showcase were due today at 3pm and at the last moment YT, Alexei Blinov and Ilze Black conferred on proposals for a ‘Blockchain Scraper ‘ to reveal some of the media files and other unexpected data embedded in the bitcoin blockchain.

We are proposing a 3day hackathon event at Deckspace in September to experiment with a toolbox of filters and data processing techniques to scan for patterns and scrape data from the millions of record in the bitcoin public ledger of transactions. This data, revealling media, comments and bitcoin ephemera will then be presented publicly.

Movie Dial close upResearchers have already uncovered a range of unexpected entries and we anticipate many more to surface as we dedicate energy to the scraping task. We also hope to construct an analogue instrument to sweep along the blockchain and project findings in realtime. Alexei has a vintage radio tuner to adapt and is confident we can attach it and drive a scrolling system!

On a more sober note, radio innovator and DJ, Don Joyce of Negativeland died this week. I think he would have been intrigued by some of these innovations to inscribe media to the commons rather than the grabbing hands of copywright lawyers. When we met briefly at Obsolete in 1996 he was still bruised from the U2 Debacle and anxious we didn’t follow a similar fate as we set out our www model.

Someone nicked the CD out of the FairUse book he gifted us, so if that was you, please return it!

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Why less FM?

volumiopiToday we turned on the first of a series of low power FM transmitters to begin rebroadcasting our favorite online radio stations and personal audio playlists using MPD – Music Player Daemon.

We began with a tiny RaspberryPi PC running Volumio hifi audio player. Then we trawled our archives to bring together available usb drive, NAS and radio streams for transmission and will continue to extend resources and access to this pool.

Next we patched in the FM transmitter and antenna we got on ebay several years ago for just £50 and set it all up on a rooftop in SE8.

Listening in we were pleased at the basic quality of the inbuilt sound card of the Pi despite a lot of hype about need for DAC add-on eg. Highberry we will keep it simple for now.

5wfmkitWhen next in SE8 try tuning your FM radio [if you still have one] to 103FM [variable] then visit the playback interface with option to build a playlist from the collection or select a internet radio station to re-broadcast.

SPC regulars WirelesFM have recently uploaded all their radio archives to Mixcloud so we will certainly feature their shows alongside the many residual audio archives we hold. ResonanceFM have been using Airtime to manage schedules of pre-recorded material and switch to their live shows and public events using the control dashboard. Perhaps this is a bit more sane than our ad-hoc approach today but would you expect anything less? Ok we will look into running our own soon enough!

So why bother.?

In case you hadn’t noticed, mass media is a closed door to all but your ennobled lovelies, so don’t wait till the FM band only plays the same tune, polluted with adverts, predictable playlists and inane banter, make a station of your own and take to the airwaves pronto!

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Shards of sharing

1satochiOur small group of blockchain researchers has been investigating how to reward one another for hosting each others encrypted data, 1Satoshi at a time.

What the hell are we suggesting?

It’s a proposal to store and share information and media in common, by processing data into small blocks or torrent ‘shards’, which are recorded on a 1Satoshi blockchain and shared amongst network peers. Sounds familiar?

The 1Satoshi application is a file wallet that will co-ordinate the tasks of processing the files you want to store and retrieve. It will also manage the sorting and reprocessing of data shards for reassembly, respond to file requests, and account for exchanges.

The shards are homogenised into a cryptographically secure torrent ‘sludge’ and pumped between peers, securely seeding all the available data to the network, whilst providing the originators co-ordinates for later full retrieval.

Bittorrent technology is a highly optimised, well established and useful system for managing the sharing of files. Each file is split into a number of identically sized shards for transportation and listed in the torrent file in hashed format. This list is then used to reassemble the file once all the parts are together. Any peers with shards of the file can offer delivery on request. Peers with full copies are ‘seeding’ and those with shards ‘leeching’. The torrent client application monitors the state of ‘interest’ and ‘choking’ of the exchange and reports each file transfer completion.

The Bitcoin network reports on transactions in a similar way, locking and unlocking a payload of information using cryptographic keys called Satoshi, so named after the inventor of Bitcoin. There are 100,000,000 Satoshi per Bitcoin, that’s a lot of cryptographic potential and the root of its valuation as currency! A minimum transaction fee of 5460 Satoshi has been set to cover the ‘cost of work’ overheads. The dust of other exchange is therefore not being recorded in the Bitcoin blockchain. Announcements to the network for smaller transactions still result in an OP Return which we will utilise for our 1Satoshi initiative.

So what is the value of a universal secure storage commons?

As a 1Satoshi peer, you make spare drive space available, which is then filled with a sludge of 1Satoshi torrent shards, each holding a block of encrypted data, each  from different origins. Peers successfully responding to a shard retrieveability test from other peers, collect the 1 Satoshi in credit.

The 1Satoshi wallet processes, tracks and relays your data. So for example,  a one gigabyte file is processed into 62,400 shards, each containing 16kb of data. It also creates a hash for each shard then shared amongst the 1Satoshi peers. The essential location, assembly and metadata information that allows for full retrieval and reassembly into your file, is written securely to the 1Satoshi blockchain.

Some amazing online resources exist to explain in detail the role miners, relays and routers play in the Bitcoin process. Our 1Satoshi wallet will feature a Block Explorer to monitor the flow and illustrate the state of play. Other views of the system in use, it’s trackers, statistics and innovations on the blockchain will feature in a suite of open source software.

More , much more needs to investigated and understood.  We would like to acknowledge the inspirational work continuing at Coinspark, StorJ and Namecoin as well as the many hands at play on both torrent and blockchain futures.

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All iterated

In the warm up to this years Party in the Park a series of promotional and fund raising events have been lined up by this years party protagonists. Such great success in 2014 has propelled the ambition for this year, not least to raise the modest development and production cash needed with a kickstarter appeal. (where is that?)

resistandcreate Minesweeper collective will be instrumental in the print and promotional aspects of the event. They already hold screen printing workshops on Tuesday and Thursdays and are set to run next PITP craft workshop on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14st June and then monthly, where you can get an introduction to the screen print process but also print a few of your existing garments with PITP 2015 artwork.

Madcap coalition have completed the move to storage and workspace on Norman Road and will begin preparing the series of community enclosures, tents and stages needed. Planning meetings for this years festival are being held on Mondays 6pm at NXL. Funding is needed for Generators, Toilets and Tenting and the call for volunteers will be made shortly.

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Adhere to this

Strands of the recent ‘offline networks’ panel @ Transmediale, prove to be of ongoing fascination as this meme builds momentum.

Projects like Superglue and Qaul shed contrasting light on the needs of open wireless networks with their respective software developments.

TP-LINK TL-WR710NOur very own SuperGlue-SPC unit is in use during weekly Wireless Wednesday Workshop at bitspace. Here is Danja presenting Superglue at recent floss4p2p event in London. It’s firefox and chrome plug-in enables live WYSIWYG editing of html and image upload via the web browser. Your graphics, text and custom code can be customised to extend the basic web hosting and page authoring functionality on offer.

Qual software is available for most operating systems and will build you a spontaneous mesh network, reconfiguring the network adapters of your local PC’s for wired and wireless connections interlinking peers automagically. This level of network infrastructure manipulation won’t be to everyone’s taste but is very progressive thinking.

Both projects are still in development and show how small groups of individuals can make progress with open source code, add-hock collaboration and minimal resources.

We are looking forward to working with these systems and more during MAZI project research later this year should funding allow.

If you can’t follow all this, please get in touch!

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Denmarketed

Ubiquiti-LocostationPrior to the remodelling of Denmark Street this year,  YT stepped across the rooftops with Daniel of Peerpoint to set up and distribute access options to the 1gb capacity fibre service available at the ESOL school there.

It’s now distributed over high speed wireless links between buildings and for local business needs in the surrounding areas of Soho, Bloomsbury and St Giles.

denmarkstreet2014-2kIf you can see your place in this panorama and are seeking a top quality broadband connection for your space then get in contact soon for more information on how to link up easily, quickly and economically.

 

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Fibonacci Bluesky

YT stood on this roof for about an hour yesterday and shot images whilst scanning for RedRaw Internet radios in case we could forge a link up to serve the tenants of Fibi House. In an area so well endowed with ‘world class’ architecture and positioned there in the heart of the City on London you may be surprised to hear how poorly it is serviced with ADSL broadband. No FTTC available? Well, not really shocked but it is curious how much of the UK has yet to be equipped with last century service let alone ready meet current expectations.

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Wireless infrastructure ? Well, your well laid plan for rooftop spanning will come to nothing when that new 21 story building completely blocks the light and line of sight to your preferred connectivity vendor. (see conspicuous red crane in this shot!)

300px-34-21-FibonacciBlocksFibre of course would be the preferred choice but with spaces on short leases and with little patience for the continuity issues of managed broadband, many landlords cut the umbilical of any existing service at the end of term and assume each new tenant will plumb their own new (minimum) 3 year fibre contract on moving in or struggle with legacy copper connections. They don’t treat the water and electrical supply in this way so they simply don’t understand the issues. It’s a huge business opportunity so expect we will hear more and more about it before long. Meanwhile many customers are left with little alternative to the clusterfuck of bonding 2, 5, 8 and even 13 ADSL lines to meet the capacity needs of their voice and date networks, with diminishing returns.

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Mazi Mondays

Panayotis Antoniadis co-founder of Nethood has gathered a group of thinkers and network activists around the MAZI project. As part of this initiative, SPC have proposed to revisit the Creekside network in Deptford and help compose a Mazi toolkit. With this, we hope to further the operation of local offline network services over the free information infrastructures such as the long lived OWN. Here he is talking at a recent floss4p2p event in London.

Panos-small“What I had in mind is that the research would focus on an area covered by a local network either permanently or at least during the duration of the project. This network would host locally crafted educational material and floss applications that would showcase emerging tools and technologies. This could be as simple as a single web hosting device offering short-range access or a community mesh network with broader objectives. “

This preferred area of focus may well coincide with existing mesh node installations.. it’s along the creek so there are indigenous social housing, boating, artistisan, hoodlum, drinking and eating communities as well as inevitable high rise developments and mixed emotions!

SPC has capacity in it’s network to offer uplinks to Mazi for the duration..  Mesh solutions are great for mobile network nodes and for resilience in an unstable environment. Primed with a set of great locations and willing collaborators aplenty, a point to point radial model will ensure greater stability and higher speeds for community needs. We already have a few low power servers and resources available and have set up a mazi subdomain of spc.org

SE9 mateThere is a swell of social, cultural and creative interest along Creekside in Deptford where we have enjoyed success in the past. We hope to rekindle interest and activity in support of the Mazi workshop program and the adoption of a locally delivered alternative to commercial web dependencies.  Meanwhile the whole area is being “developed” so there are rising blocks on every quarter isolating areas of Deptford which will present a challenge when fixing links and bridging ideas.

The river Ravensbourne snakes from Bromley through Lewisham and opens out after Elverson Road DLR into naturalised riverside alongside Brookmill Park. It retreats into a concrete slot under the A2 at Deptford Bridge DLR and emerges as Deptford Creek up behind LeSoCo (Lewisham College) canyoned by new flats and hotels on the Greenwich side, developments that are set to run the length of Norman Road.

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Babar Luck @ Birdsnest

Just as the Creek broadens a little and gets really muddy there is a branch mooring a dozen barges and smaller boats. On land there are a similar array of trailers and vans where people live and work. At the top of Creekside on the corner of Deptford Church Street is the Birdsnest live music pub and local flux point. The yard that wraps around it features Big red Pizza Bus and an array of related performance and construction trades. Other adjacent properties are in progress of reactivation in the sweep of enthusiasm for SE8. APT (artists in perpetuity trust) purchased the old factory building in 1995 and their community of traditional crafts practitioners are at the core of Deptford artist reputation.

Creekside Education Centre  has the only direct access to the creek. Boundless broadband coop was first implanted here in 2004, and is still operating an OWN node today. Over the road is the Crossfields council housing estate, repopulated  by young families,  artists and musicians in 1970’s and regularly commented on. Thereafter it’s a pick n mix run of light industrial yards, Scaffolders, Machinists, Work Units, Art Studios, Cockpit Arts, Laben Dance and bonanza of real estate prospectors with plans to block out the light.

cropped-minesweeper2001A 2nd world war Minesweeper is moored alongside one of few remaining light industrial estates off Norman Road. It has a mixed crew of arty anarchos who screen print t-shirts and lead on refurbishment of the aged hull, host great parties and a flotilla of smaller boats. Madcap Coalition have just moved to one of the remaining warehouses adjacent to the cement works by the Creek Road lifting bridge. Finally at the mouth a new pedestrian swing bridge links between swanky new condo’s before the creek tips into the Thames.

More, much more info about the area and it’s many great features, ideas and activities are reported in a clutch of local blogs, projects and innovations to numerous to detail here.

Here is the MAZI project outline;
Do-It-Yourself networking refers to a conceptual approach to the use of low-cost hardware and wireless technologies in deploying local communication networks that can operate independently from the public Internet, owned and controlled by local actors.
MAZI means “together” in Greek and the MAZI project invests in this paradigm of technology-supported networking, as a means to bring closer together those living in physical proximity. Through an experienced interdisciplinary consortium, MAZI delivers a DIY networking toolkit that offers tools and guidelines for the easy deployment and customization of local networks and services.
The MAZI toolkit is designed to take advantage of particular characteristics of DIY networking: the de facto physical proximity between those connected; the increased privacy and autonomy; and the inclusive access. Such characteristics are used to promote information exchanges that can develop the location-based collective awareness, as a basis for fostering social cohesion, conviviality, knowledge sharing, and sustainable living.
To achieve this objective, MAZI brings together partners from different disciplines: computer networks, urban planning and interdisciplinary studies, human-computer interaction, community informatics, and design research. These academic partners will collaborate closely with four community partners to ensure that the MAZI toolkit benefits from the grounded experience of citizen engagement.
MAZI draws from the diverse mix of competencies of its consortium to develop a transdisciplinary research framework, which will guide a series of long-term pilot studies in a range of environments, and enhanced by various cross-fertilization events.
The main goal of this process, and its measure of success, is establishing DIY networking as a mainstream technology for enabling the development of collective awareness between those in physical proximity, and the development of surrounding research and theorizing of this approach.
Participants; University of Thessaly, NetHood, Edinburgh Napier University, Berlin University of the Arts, Open University, INURA Zurich Institute, SPC, Prinzessinnengarten, and unMonastery.
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Re ale state

thamesfootbridgeThis was the first of Ben Wilsons minitures on the Millenium Bridge that I noticed whilst crossing from Bankside to visit Maydayrooms on Fleet Street winter 2014.

31102014benwilsonCaptivated, I inched along snapping other chewing gum paintings and blocking pedestrians till almost tripping over him, working prostate just a few meters along.

His playful response to the available canvas reminded me of Tim Cooks beautifully crafted, sculptures, collages and paintings, often re-purposing everyday objects and images.

bak.spc99insideSome eventually adorned Backspace, which Tim helped us build in 1996.devilscoachhorse This is one of the few we have at Deckspace.

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