The meeting today of the Houston Wireless meeting tonight was very interesting, with a lot of blue sky concepts being discussed. Tonight’s guest was Alan Levy, the adviser to the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. To be honest I was a bit confused by his terminology for probably the first part of the meeting, as he tended to throw out the terms OS and VPN quite freely. I’m still not sure what to make of the whole thing, but the gist I got from it was that the current state of WiFi technology is a fluke, a mistake by the governments and corporations in that they created the space for a technology which completely bypasses traditional and monolithic communications infrastructure which is completely unregulated. He described this state as an accident, and stated that there was a small window of opportunity of about ten to twelve months where this advantage could be pushed and reach critical mass in changing the way we communicate before it can be trivialized by regulation. He also intimated that there are several “extremely subtle” measures working their way through legislation, but he failed to identify any of them, saying there was really only one and he didn’t want to comment on it specifically because he hadn’t had a chance to look at it very closely.
He also emphasized several times the insidiousness of corporations with vested interests in the markets that WiFi can engulf, and I got the feeling that he had dealt with this before. That message combined with the sense of urgency he instilled made me feel like a freedom fighter or something, or someone who was around at critical times in the development of the internet or radio. Barrett likened it to the start of Linux, with the analogy following that we’ve been flying under the radar, so to speak, until now and so it’s time to really buckle down and take the platform to the next level. So what was his goal? I wasn’t altogether clear on this either, but what I got out of it was that he envisioned wireless ad hoc networks existing on a community level over which a number of “applications” could operate. The applications he referred to are things that are normally provided to us by large corporations in monopolistic fields, such as television, telephone, cable, radio, and anything else that the community can provide and there is a need for. His main point seemed to be that cost and security weren’t holding back widespread WiFi adoption one bit, it was familiarity and applications. Just like an operating system with nothing to run over it, right now the applications of current wireless networks sans the internet are pretty sparse. Seattle Wireless and their goal of creating a distinct network separate from the internet was brought up several times. What he called on us, and by us I mean the Houston Wireless group, to do is create the platform which would allow the current wireless broadband community to create a Metropolitan Area Network which replaces many of the current communication infrastructure and promotes near universal access to its resources regardless of economic status or location.
At least that’s what I can get out of it at this time of night. The great erewhon has the whole thing on video, including some of the questions from people who appeared to be as confused as I was at points. When the video finally goes up I’ll take a look at it and maybe reexamine my thoughts on the subject. At this point I’m not sure exactly how much of this was what he said and how much is me mixing other thing in, but if you note any crazy discrepancies leave a comment and I’ll patch things up. With that, I bid you all adieu and I think I’ll try and get some sleep. (Finally.)