WIRELESS WORKSHOP: COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY
January 22 12-5pm
There were a strong 7 workshoppers who stuck with the whole workshop: Phil, Meg, Alley, Amy, Stijn, anonymous, and Rich. There were several drop-ins who just wanted to get the recipe and go, and that they did.
In the course of the workshop we managed to explore wireless internet as an area of convergence between the arts, sciences, and the space we inhabit. While we built a handful of working antennnas, and experienced their ability to broaden the horizions of roamable area, we also demystified the science that makes it possible.
The variety of cans brought to the workshop enabled us also to examine some of the different results produced by different materials.
Most importantly we realized the potential for improvisation and exploration with this technology.
The possiblity that wireless foreshadows and the enthusiasm of the workshoppers demands that the exploration continues on a larger scale. Rather than merely concentrating on the accessibility and potential of wireless networking in our community, the time has come to put the theory, and our new understanding into action.
Cans, copper wire, soldering irons, solder, female N-Type Chassy, Pig Tail, wireless router, hammers, screwdrivers, super glue.
Wireless technology facilitates sharing and collaboration. Because networks no longer require any "infrastructure" they can come into existence and vanish instantaneously.
And whether we're talking about hot-spots or hot-zones, mobility, scalability and having tools that can come along for the ride in our three dimensional world means that we have more control over the tools.
The notion of being "online" is endangered, if not in the last phases of extinction. Radio and cellular coverage are already an indispensable and omnipresent force. That our other communications appliances now tap a similar source, makes me wonder at least if there really is such a thing as "offline."
All of this relies on a medium that is free, unregulated, and always available. Realizing just how easy it is to get your hands on a signal, or to do incredible things with a signal (like extend the range) is an integral part of staking a claim in a field where the norms have not yet been codified.
The computer per se is just one of many platforms in a genuinely mobile digital lifestyle, and an increasingly less important one.
For years we've been talking about "dial-up" internet access. Until the last few years the use of a modem and a household phone line were the only means with which the consumer could access the internet. But think about the words themselves: dial-up. When was the last time you "dialed" a phone. I remember thinking when I was a child how quickly and completely the touch-tone had replaced the old rotary. But the old rotary is still the image that is conjured by the dial.
For years to come we will talk about being "online." But how quickly will, with technologies like the 802.11 family of standards, will "on" be just another vestigial metaphor. When will we be "offline?"
And the computer too; a hulking box stuck to the desk where it lives unseverable from the wall.
The cellphone and the PDA are desperately trying to coalesce into one small functional appliance. True, it may not be likely that everyone can afford the traditional two thousand dollar computer, but a four hundred dollar internet appliance is not only more accessible but, I think in moments to come, will be almost universally preferable.
As the "information superhighway" becomes more technologically advanced it's uses exhibit an inverse relationship. So goes the superhighway, replaced by the information sidewalk. Omnipresent, universally accessible, and exploitable with the minimum effort.
This workshop will present instructions for building your own wireless antennae.
BRING COFFEE CANS, PRINGLES CANS OR THE LIKE!!
Workshop Leader: Jonathan Foerster (Wireless Robinhood)
Open Distributed Public Wireless Network Infrastructure
Connecting Islands with 802.11b
The Wireless Node Database Project