Fake Internet at Burning Man-- bad idea?

All things outside of Burning Man.

Fake Internet at Burning Man?

Yes.
5
11%
Yes.
5
11%
No.
4
9%
No.
4
9%
It depends: will there be porn?
13
30%
It depends: will there be porn?
13
30%
 
Total votes: 44

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Teo del Fuego
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Post by Teo del Fuego » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:50 am

jkisha wrote:
I was warned ahead of time. Frankly, I can understand someone threatening to beat you up. Had I been shocked, I might have smashed the kiosk myself NOT FUNNY IMHO
Would it make any difference to you that the voltage was not enough to be painful, but just enough to give an unexpected surprise? Seriously, we saw teenage girls giggle after getting shocked. At any rate, I didn't come up with the idea or help construct it. It was the brainchild of Timber who did the Ant Colony project in 2007 and who, tragically, took his own life in 2009.

BTW: would you smash the various "hippie traps" out there if you got caught in one of them?

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MisaBlue
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Post by MisaBlue » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:55 pm

Shit! My fault!

Hope it works now...
[youtube][/youtube]

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rodiponer
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Post by rodiponer » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:15 pm

Well, I am rethinking this project.

After some more research, I've learned that Black Rock is already up to it's ears in Internet. Skilled and dedicated people build excellent and huge connectivity for the city, so it is almost trivial to build on top of their work and make an Internet hotspot. I didn't know that. Apparently a sizable portion of the traffic is uploading videos to YouTube. Ugh.

This makes building a Fake Internet less effective at re-engaging them in the community. I was hoping that the net effect of a network that only includes other people at Burning Man is that people would go offline. But with the Real Internet so widely available, those who are hungry for it will quickly move on to another access point and do whatever it is they meant to do. Which is apparently Facebook.

I next thought of delivering the real Internet but making my 'disapproval' obvious as some kind of joke, maybe replacing all of the ads embedded in the websites they visit with fake ads for "Unicorn Man Will See You Now" and "Real Experiences, Available Now-- Just turn off your computer" and "How to talk to strangers, secrets explained" and "Seize This Moment, Engage Yourself in Reality" and "No One Gives A Shit How Cool You Think You Are For Being At Burning Man, So Shut Up And Go Have Fun" or having ads for theme camps and experiences "Horsey Camp needs more Ponys." But that is just trolling people who are probably already lost.

I hesitate to say that anyone at Burning Man is Doing It Wrong. I don't even know what the right way is. But I feel that someone who retreats from the experiences and people at hand in Black Rock City to chase validation from people online is Doing It Wrong. It reeks of low self esteem, even if they are not trying to wear their attendance as a badge. I've just made this up, but there is a Quantum Theory of Experiences-- measuring an experience changes it. Measuring stops the flow of moments, and forces you to think in words, and think what other people would think of you and your words, and as you package it into a neat little story you are collapsing a wave into a single well defined point that has much less possibility. To me, this is what packaging an experience into a witty status update or tweet does, even if it is not a prideful or competitive thought that drives one to keep packaging their experiences this way. So, in my own weird way, I am saying that it diminishes the experience more than I think people who are doing it realize.

My wife likes my Aluminipede project, because, as she says, it's real, and was actually hard to do. So maybe I will focus on reality based projects.

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hookahdude
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Post by hookahdude » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:53 pm

Just a quick comment and I will take my lumps offline...

I intend to use the internet while I am at BM this year. I have a miniscule blog in which I am documenting this experience for my son who is coming with me. His grandmother (my mom) is very excited by the thought of getting daily tidbits from us while we are in BRC, as are all of his re-discovered cousins, aunts and uncles. In addition, my wife, who is understanding enough to get why this year is a "me and the boy" burn is comforted by the thought of little blogs while we are in the middle of nowhere.

I could give a fuck about Facebook(not connected) or Twitter(don't tweet) or any of the other social networking crap out there. BM and the eplaya are my Social Networking efforts. My blog is for family, friends and randomly interested parties.

Here is the thing - I like writing, I enjoy photography, and I enjoy re-connecting with relatives I have been disassociated with. I am not going to "waste" any time experiencing anything by taking 30-40 minutes a day to pop a courtesy blog online for people I care about and love.

If there were no internet on Playa, it would not phase me one bit. My watch and cell will be in a ziplock in the glove box - and I am going to use the internet as a means to communicate with people I genuinely care about while I am on the Playa.

As far as experiencing Burning Man - feel free to track me down at Apokiliptika and have that conversation with me.

As far as "Doing it Wrong" - I would even go as far as to say the only way to do it wrong is to worry about doing it right.... If they think it is a rave, they go looking for a Rave... if they think it is a big drug fest, then they go looking for that. If a person just says - I am going to Burning Man and enters BRC with an open mind with no expectations - it is pretty difficult to do it wrong.

I am glad to be coming home this year and happy to have a way to share it with my family.
Hookah Dude
"In war-time the word patriotism means suppression of truth” - Siegfried Sassoon
I AM AN ASSHAT!!!
(Shooting for 2012 with my better half!)

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rodiponer
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Post by rodiponer » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:46 am

I don't have any lumps to give. I think forums tend to look more antagonistic than they are because each post has to effectively communicate a whole thought.

I agree that people find what they are coming for. And that there is plenty of downtime. I also believe in coming with no expectations-- a couple weeks ago I began writing a guide for newbies coming to the village I camp with. And I stopped writing it because everything I was saying would just add to their expectations.

It is my own issue that makes me dislike the Internet there. I also find it repulsive for people to tweet the birth of their child, or during a spiritual tourism journey to India (or wherever). It just feels inauthentic. But I am way too aware that I am the one who is deciding I don't like it and making up a whole intellectualized philosophy for why I dont like it. And that my repulsion lies on an understanding and expectation (dirty word) of Burning Man.

I am actually surprised that, given the strength of the infrastructure, many other people have evidently individually chosen not to pipe wifi to every intersection in the city. Or not add a bank of a dozen phones to Center Camp. I'd like to figure out why, since it's probably more thoughtful than my gut feeling of revulsion and rough idea that it encourages people to "do it wrong."

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Elderberry
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Post by Elderberry » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:54 am

Teo del Fuego wrote:
jkisha wrote:
I was warned ahead of time. Frankly, I can understand someone threatening to beat you up. Had I been shocked, I might have smashed the kiosk myself NOT FUNNY IMHO
Would it make any difference to you that the voltage was not enough to be painful, but just enough to give an unexpected surprise? Seriously, we saw teenage girls giggle after getting shocked. At any rate, I didn't come up with the idea or help construct it. It was the brainchild of Timber who did the Ant Colony project in 2007 and who, tragically, took his own life in 2009.

BTW: would you smash the various "hippie traps" out there if you got caught in one of them?
Truth be told, I wouldn't actually smash anyone's attempt at art or personal expression out there, no matter how objectionable i found it.
JK
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Then I realized that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me

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Ugly Dougly
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Post by Ugly Dougly » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:54 am

rodiponer wrote:I don't even know what the right way is.
Then you truly are a wise man among us. :)

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rodiponer
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Post by rodiponer » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:40 am

Or maybe I am just regurgitating what I've read... Or is that the same thing as being wise? :)

Throw Away Project Idea #xx: The Business Center.

The decor is authentic run down 80's cubicle furniture. A bank of VoIP phones, photo copiers, wifi, and Internet kiosks. Everything works and is real.

But just like at Kinkos, unmotivated and incompetent stoner types will try to 'help' you dial out, use the wifi, and Internet kiosks. Complain and they will give you that blank stare and ask for you to come back later and talk to their manager.

They'll randomly grab your mouse and start typing stuff on your keyboard, accidentally trip over the plugs and turn everything off a couple times an hour, interrupt you to put a 'Out of Order' sign on your computer and just say "I'm sorry, sir, this one is broken."

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Lassen Forge
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Post by Lassen Forge » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:30 pm

Is that the manager who walks in talking on his cellphone, he gives abuse to his stoned employees, then walks over to help with a totally unrelated problem, gets sidetracked between looking at reams of paper, making calls on his cellphone, looking at tractor-fed printouts, and then walks over to you, looks at his watch, and says "Sorry, got an appointment (or lunch, or break, or whatever) can you come back tomorrow?"

I think I know him. Or... them...

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gyre
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Post by gyre » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:11 pm

rodiponer wrote: I hesitate to say that anyone at Burning Man is Doing It Wrong. I don't even know what the right way is.
Somehow I am certain there are people available to inform you of everything you are doing wrong, regardless of whether any of it has ever actually happened or not.


If I understand your idea, I think this is a fascinating idea.
I think experimenting with it would be interesting.
Black Rock City is a sort of very rich refugee camp, with many third world limitations, such as locating other people.
This could even be quite useful for some people, as playa info has become overwhelmed at times.

I would like to understand better how this works.

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Ugly Dougly
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Post by Ugly Dougly » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:29 am

Just throwing something out regarding art and creativity.
If you have a creative spark in your skull, the ancients might have called it "inspiration", as if some deity "breathed" an idea into your mind, then honor it and go with it.
If you have to ask a committee or run a poll or a fucking focus group, then you are betraying that sacred inspiration.
Just shut up and build your dream. :) We will all be amazed to see it, I assure you.

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rodiponer
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Post by rodiponer » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:35 am

Hi Guys,

Thanks for writing.

I am not looking for approval or a committee so much as trying to figure out what the right thing to do is. It's hard to develop ideas in a vacuum. I know other people are smarter or more thoughtful than I am, and as a group, hopefully, we are something more.

We all help build the city. And I want to build it in a direction that I like. And the Internet thing has thrown me a little because I think I need a more thoughtful idea of what The Internet means to me, what Burning Man is to me, and how the two could work together.

The Internet will eventually be everywhere in Black Rock City. But I do not want to thoughtlessly be a part of that. That I would do it for fun or as a contribution makes no difference than if I were being paid to do it. The end result to other people is the same. Other people can help build the city in any direction they want, no one should tell them no. But I want to be responsible for what changes I help bring to the city, and would no more deliver the Internet to 20 city blocks than I would make a private party space.

And since the Internet is already there in such a big way, my Internut would just be creating a digital ghetto. And creating a ghetto feels completely different than providing a basic community involvement or distributed playa info friend finding service where there was no Internet. Given the choice of the Internet to the Internut, I don't see many people choosing the Fake Internet. It'd be patronizing to make that choice for them and block the Internet from going through my hardware. But if I don't block it, then I am basically spending a lot of time helping build the city in a direction that I don't like.

There's a lot that can be done because it is cool or easy, but I do not be the one who does it. With the infrastructure from last year, a bank of 8 or 16 phones in Center Camp would cost less than $500, if you had to buy new hardware. Or one could bring a bunch of MicroCells, write sign up software, and pipe cellular service from many carriers to a small area in Center Camp. That's fine with me if someone else does it, but I don't want that to be my personal contribution to Black Rock City.

Here are the Nerdy Details:

Hardware:
Each node is a:
- Small motherboard ($63)
- 802.11 b/g wifi PCI card ($12)
- 802.11 a wifi uplink device ($50)
- 7db antenna ($7)
- 2x 12v 7ah SLA batteries ($28) (~30-48 hour battery life)
- Total cost for each node: $160 (excluding antenna mast and battery box)

Each node is a tripod made of 8' 3/4" aluminum poles with a 16' PVC pipe sticking through the center. The embedded computer is mounted on the PVC pipe just above the apex of the tripod (~8'). The wifi uplink device is mounted at the top of the PVC pipe (~16').

Place 12 nodes around the city:
- 7 on the Esplanade, facing every block.
- 3-4 in camps in the Center camp ring, or on bikes that we leave locked to the bike racks.
- 2 in small art cars that will roam the city
- Make a few additional nodes using off the shelf hardware (Linksys routers and netbooks or old computers) for theme camps that have AC power and want a node in their camp.

Software Overview:
- Each node is a completely self contained unit. It has an internal webserver and email server. The uplink devices form a mesh network between the nodes. The nodes use the mesh network to synchronize with each other. Users connect to a node and do not directly send traffic over the mesh network (this vastly reduces the bandwidth and latency requirements for the mesh, since the total database being synchronized will be less that 5 megs).

Some nodes may not be able to talk to the others. The nodes on the roaming art cars may update these orphan nodes when they drive around. The users may also update these nodes as they walk around the city. It is expected that dead batteries, large art cars blocking wifi signals, bad hardware, and etc will cut the mesh network and temporarily isolate nodes from the rest of the city. Users will still be able to use them, but their data won't be synchronized with the entire city in real time.

Software:
- Reflash the uplink devices with OpenWRT and BATMAN to make a 5ghz 802.11a ad-hoc mesh network.
- Reflash the small motherboards with Linux and the Internut software:
-- A webserver that hosts a basic message board (more like post it notes with threaded comments).
-- An IMAP server that hosts a BRC-Only email service.
--- This email service is also accessible from the phone (or laptops) web browser
--- This email service is nearly zero configuration: just make up any user name you want, any password (it ignores passwords), and start sending and recieving messages with that name. Absolutely no security. Anyone can sign on as LarryHarvey and email other people.
--- There are several email (IMAP) folders that mirror the message board topics. If someone posts to EVENTS on the message board, or sends an email to EVENTS, a message will be added to everyones EVENTS folder. Folders would be something like Now, Volunteer, Events, Themecamps, and maybe ones for neighborhoods or Find Lost Friends or something.

To encourage immediecy I wrote an algorithm that lets people categorize emails or web posts as NOW. These posts would feature prominently on the website, and at the top of every email folder (no matter the category), and expire after some short interval, or be pushed down by other NOW posts. And the Events category would be sorted by their time and date, then disappear afterward. Volunteer opportunities would be sorted in the same way.

The total size of all the messages would be limited to about 5 megabytes. This is a lot, War and Peace is about 3 megabytes. This ensures that it will fit in a phones web browser offline storage area (used to synchronize orphaned nodes) and the Routerstations RAM and on-board Flash memory. This will also keep the email and web experience very fast.

OK. So I got very far along this path. It's very easy to write a web bulletin board and email server if you keep it very simple and don't have user sign up pages with email confirmations, passwords, password recovery, real moderation, and etc. All that stuff is usually more work than the part that people spend 95% of their time in.

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Ugly Dougly
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Post by Ugly Dougly » Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:44 pm

I see how you're thinking. Linking parts of the playa electronically. :)

How about webcams?

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Foxfur
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Post by Foxfur » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:58 am

Ronipoder wrote:And since the Internet is already there in such a big way, my Internut would just be creating a digital ghetto.

There's nothing I'd like better than to slum your (soon to be our) Internut.

I think the whole idea is great. Do it, don't think about it, just do it.
I love the technical writeup.
I don't understand half of it but I love the comprehensive detail.

Oh WiFi, why must you tempt me?
I will probably get on sparingly to message other eplayans to try and meet up.
It seems better than hit or miss.
Or I may not even take the netbook out of its case all week.
We'll see.

Ff

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