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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2010 edited
     (7584.1)
    I've been kicking around a lot of ideas lately about "Local Area" or Personal Area Networking as a disruptive activity, so I'm creating this thread as a request for infodump, links, etc about the topic in the real world or in published works (not personal or fan fiction or plot ideas, as that would be Against the Rules).

    I was cleaning out my Drawers of old Junk Tech, and noticed I've piled up four or five viable, if old, PDA phones. These things, old HTC Apache units, are pretty rugged and robust, complete with camera and mic, keyboard, a full Windows compatible OS, can boot Android, and support WiFi and Bluetooth. Here's one: . They are a commodity used item now, and you can easily pick up as many as you like for short money. To most people, they're just an old phone.

    But now, think about this: Stick a battery on a unit like that. Put it in an airtight, sealed plastic box, something that can be stashed in a locker, up in a drop ceiling, or tossed in a car's backseat.

    Get a data connection to the unit going somehow - it can do WiFi or 3G. Then light up a peer access point signal or Bluetooth sharing and put something like "Watch Me" in the signal name. Then dump whatever content you wanted on the device. You can remote control them across the Internet easily using free software, so you can actually interact with it and theoretically, the person holding it or in range of the broadcast, speakers and camera.

    Now what you've got is a sort of free-floating information bomb, an improvised broadcasting device of micro-range physically - a few meters - but also capable of both broadcasting and receiving from the Internet.

    Add in things like encryption, anonymous proxying, IRC bot control, and a little webserver and you have a real-world microbroadcasting station. Add GPS as well, and Google Latitude. Now you have a mobile broadcasting station that can pop up and announce itself, announce the area you need to physically be in to participate in the broadcast, or consume it.

    Consider, for instance, the Notebookery project we have going on Whitechapel. Imagine instead of the notebook, you're passing this device anonymously down the chain; recipients can freely add audio and video, graphics and text, voice and chat as their contribution.

    Consider dropping a bunch of these all around Iran from the air. When turned on, they find each other and establish a secure, trusted peer network for voice and video, but also allowing geolocation or broadcasting. The units could all be streaming video live over a secure proxy network showing events in real time, but configured to conceal the holder by bouncing the signal around through all the peers.

    Or consider dropping them on Haiti, for similar reasons.

    So I'm interested in pursuing this as a concept, putting together a working demo that is self-contained, rugged and reliable, and then just seeing what happens. I've actually got a sort of workable demo now, but the power and control are just not reliable enough yet. The things need to be capable of just getting airdropped (literally, if necessary) on a site and working right out of the box.
    Demo Unit


    Links appreciated to any sort of discussions about this sort of use of local networks for artistic, propaganda, resistance or other purposes.