Thu 23 Feb 2017 9:37AM

Commons transition: what about the IT infrastructure?

MK Michele Kipiel Public Seen by 104

Hi all,

there's a great deal of debate in the P2P community about the ways the commons transition will take shape in fields as diverse as energy production, farming, housing, industrial production and so on. Almost all proposed solutions take the IT ifrastructure as a given: the internet is assumed to always be there for us to use, no matter what. This seems to me like a naive and dangerous assumption, as it greatly downplays the importance of ISPs (which are private companies) as both gateways and gatekeepers of our access to the internet. There are many ways both governments and private institutions could get in the way of the commons transition by disrupting our communication channels.

Has this been debated here before? Are there any resources/articles/papers around this problem I should be aware of?



Nicolas Stampf Thu 23 Feb 2017 9:51AM

I think IT needs to be rethought for a better economy (and also a better social impact like less monetarization of personal data, etc.)
True P2P networks (in the IT sense this time) ought to be more developed. I've seen web pages but it's far from easily feasible for the lay, non IT person.
I've moved my blog to my own server (a raspberry Pi 3 with an attached small hard drive), and intent to host my own email as well. But again, it's still complicated (though some pre-packaged kits are available like Yunohost for instance).

I personally dream of the old days of Internet with 1:1 connections and routing between hosts. Protocols have evolved since, so it should be more easily doable as well. Forget DSL links save for the isolated people, and let's go for wifi hops to hops to route our packets :)


Graham Thu 23 Feb 2017 11:40AM

what's your blog address Nicolas? I'd be interested to see how running it off a Pi impacts performance. Also you'll need to be on a connection with a decent upload speed.


Graham Thu 23 Feb 2017 11:39AM

Community ownership of infrastructure is surely a key piece of the jigsaw. Initiatives like guifi.net and b4rn.org.uk are part of the solution, and put users in control of more of the supply chain, but things like these are a drop in the ocean currently. The big internet pipes are I think largely under corporate control, but I would hope there is also strong governmental input into these assets given their strategic importance. Interesting to note that major peering points (where the big pipes exchange traffic) are often run as not-for-profit mutuals (e.g. https://www.linx.net) and commercially focused exchanges are often much less successful. The cooperative model works! See also http://bdx.coop and http://shaunfensom.com


Nicolas Stampf Thu 23 Feb 2017 11:57AM

http://blog.appreciatingsystems.com/. I have a poor DSL connection, but I find it enough for a blog (and descending email later or to upload files I find at work onto my personal cloud instance - also on the Pi).

The latency is due to the DSL line, not the Pi, really. When I browse the Pi from home, it's just... fast.


Graham Thu 23 Feb 2017 12:07PM

That's not bad at all. I tried running Wordpress on a first generation Pi and it is painful. This looks much more useful. As an aside I'm seeing the seeing three errors on your home page:

404 error with http://blog.appreciatingsystems.com/resources/images/article_assets/2016/08/R1609C_ALMQUIST_VALUEPYRAMID-850x1169.png

400 error with

and a JS error with http://blog.appreciatingsystems.com/wp-content/plugins/googlecards/js/googleCards.min.js?ver=4.7.2


Nicolas Stampf Thu 23 Feb 2017 3:58PM

well, I have not migrated all the DNS entries, and some might still be pointing to the US provider. Until then, errors are expected :)

But really, the Raspberry Pi3 is really powerful (even when connected to a TV with a keyboard and graphic interface, it's usuable even for Office work (with Libre Office for instance). It's a bit slow but in an energetic degrowth posture, it's acceptable for me. (It's headless for now, running below my home desk, slurping only 2W at most).

My future work is to have it run out of a solar powered battery (I have one for a play house for the kids in the garden, with LED lights, which isn't used, and the battery has USB power outputs :)


Jake Hansen Fri 24 Feb 2017 7:29PM

There is also a grassroots initiative here in The Netherlads, in the city of Leiden: https://www.wirelessleiden.nl/en


Graham Wed 1 Mar 2017 11:00AM

The Dutch project in Neunen (http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Nuenen.html) going back to 2008-ish was inspirational for many in the UK when looking at community owned solutions. these types of project are the way to go in terms of creating infrastructure under community control between home/office and a local hub/exchange. The bdx.coop approach can be used to create new digital exchanges (a currently under-considered element in the network where as I see it there is a lot of scope for cooperative ownership/control). The much bigger challenge is the backhaul – the core fibre infrastructure that connects these exchanges together and provides the central transit services that we all rely on. There's nothing to stop communities (of place and/or interest) from building their own infrastructure (other than the financial barriers and the vested corporate and political interests, of course).

In terms of building a knowledge base, don't start from scratch. http://www.beyondbroadband.coop was built by INCA (inca.coop) a few years ago. Somewhat out of date now, there's still a lot of good information there, albeit largely UK-specific (disclosure: Im part of the INCA team). Shaun Fensom (referenced earlier in this thread) and others have been working on these issues for many years. Interested parties should talk to them and learn from their work before duplicating that effort.


Simon Grant Wed 1 Mar 2017 11:24AM

Brilliant, thanks @graham2 just the kind of information I was hoping for. Totally agree about not duplicating effort.

If there is a resource that is out of date, can we either get access to update it, or clone it and build on that?


Graham Wed 1 Mar 2017 2:42PM

The http://www.beyondbroadband.coop site has really been mothballed now by INCA. Only last week we were talking about whether to take it offline altogether. However, if there was a committed group willing to take it on, bring it up to date and nurture it, I'm sure the INCA team would be very open to talks about how we could make it available.
The site is built in Drupal 6, and as originally established was designed to act like a wiki, where a community of interested users could contribute to the knowledgebase.

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