The goal of the Linux-Society (LS, dating back to the mid-90s as a professional club and tech-mentoring group) has been a purely-democratic Information Society; many of the articles are sociological in nature. The LS was merged with Perl/Unix of NY to form multi-layered group that included advocacy, project-oriented learning by talented high school students: textbook constructivism. Linux has severe limitations such that it is useless for any computer that will, say, print or scan. It is primarily used for webservers and embedded devices such as the Android. (Google is high-invested in it).

Technology is problematic. During the heyday of technology (1990s), it seemed it had the democratic direction Lewis Mumford said it should have in his seminal
Technics and Civilization.

Today, we are effectively stuck with Windows as Linux is poor on the desktop and has cultured a maladaptive following. Apple is prohibitive, and all other operating systems lack drivers, including Google's Android, an offshoot of linux.

In the late 90s there was hope for new kernels such as LibOS and ExoOS that would bare their hardware to programs, some of which would be virtual machines such as Java uses. Another important player was the L4 system that is a minor relation to the code underlying the Apple's systems. It was highly scientific but fell into the wrong hangs, apparently, and has suffered from having no progress on the desktop. There is a version, "SE" that is apparently running in many cell phones as specialized telecom chips, but is proprietary. SE's closed nature was only recently revealed, which is important because it is apparently built from publicly-owned code as it is not a "clean room" design it may violate public domain protections, and most certainly violates the widely-accepted social contract.

Recent attempts to enjoin into L4 development as an advocate for "the people" have been as frustrating (and demeaning) as previous attempts with the usual attacks to self-esteem by maladaptive "hacks" being reinforced by "leadership" (now mostly university professors).

In short, this leaves us with Windows, which is quite a reversal if you have read earlier posts here. But, upon Windows, we have free and open software development systems in the forms of GTK+ (the windows usually used on Linux) and the Minimal GNU Windows (MinGW and MSYS) systems. It is very likely this direction that development should go (that is, on Windows) such that s/w can then be ported to a currently-valid microkernel system that includes a driver system that can be adapted by hardware developers to reuse of their windows and apple drivers.

From a brief survey of L4, it appears that the last clean copy was the DROPS system of the early 2010s, was a German effort that used the Unix-like "OS kit" from an American University.

If we are going to be stuck on Windows, then it seems that a high level approach to free and open systems integration, such as creating fully transparent mouse communication between apps so that they can seamlessly work together as a single desktop (rather than deliberately conflicting). This would be very helpful for GIMP and Inkscape, both leading graphics programs that are strong in the special ways, but suffer from an inability to easily interrelate.

Another important issue is the nature, if you can call it that, of the "geek" or "hack." Technology is formed democratically but "harvested" authoritarian-ly --if I can coin a term that Mumford might use. Authority is plutarchy: a combination of aristocracy and oligarchy that is kept alive after all these millennia by using, or maligning, the information society as a part of the civilizing (or law-giving) process that embraces the dialectic as its method. Democratic restoration, that is to put humanity back on an evolutionary (and not de-evolutionary) track, I think, will require the exclusion of the "geek" from decision-making. As is, the free/open s/w culture attempts to give leadership to those who write the most lines of code --irrespective of their comprehension of the real world or relationship with normal users. We need normal people to somehow organize around common sense (rather than oligarchic rationalism) to bring to life useful and cohesive software and communications systems.

Interestingly, the most popular page on this site is about Carl Rogers' humanistic psychology, and has nothing to do with technology.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Meshing, A Free Networking Matrix

Ubiquitous Computing

New to the world is a networking concept called Meshing. Technically defined, “a Mesh network is a collection of autonomous nodes or terminals that communicate with each other by forming a multi hop radio network and maintaining connectivity in a decentralized manner”

This means that computers with wireless equipment can transfer information between themselves on behalf of other computers, effectively routing the information across a fabric of connections. As the number of wireless computers (or other devices) increases, the speed of the meshed network increases at a greater rate. Since all these privately owned computers are helping each other independent of any government or corporation network, they are all truly autonomous. They are also very reliable. As soon as a better path through the fabric of radio connections is found for information, that one becomes more commonly used. Any node can drop out (or be shut off) without impacting the network. It is really a matrix rather than a connection of networks that the Internet really is.

In terms of information sharing and the sharing of the code that makes up computers, meshing would enhance the users' experiences many factors over what is available now, however remarkable present computing power may be. Because an increase in density creates an ever more efficient network, it would not take long for users to start transmitting voice over the meshed networks. This would effectively eliminate the need for local telephone service, and as the meshes interconnected, assisted by the Internet itself for long distances, even long distance telecoms would be threatened.

In the third world, the change would be even more significant. Communication would be done on these very cheap computers. Over long distances, aircraft could easily store packets picked up in one location and then deliver them as they pass over another more remote location. Requested information would never take more that an hour to get a response anywhere in the world.

If corporations would attempt to deny service by exploiting the digital divide, then e-mutualists would develop their own systems. If governments continue on their support for the monopolization of intellectual property in the form of skewed patent and copyright laws, then the same phenomena that defined the MP3 revolution may rise in these networks, their potential is so powerful. Hopefully the e-mutualists will prevail and the society at large will see that their democratic involvement in their digital future is necessary, will be very rewarding, and the technology itself will be the vehicle for democracy.

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