Things have certainly picked up in the last week.
I was informed last week that there is an opportunity to push the work with the Liberian Literacy foundation forward much faster. There are two grants available, both for hefty sums, that would fund the full development of a network that is decentralized at every level for the city of Monrovia, Liberia. Between my two normal jobs, I have been working pretty fiercely to make sure that the appropriate research and paperwork is done so that we are positioned to be awarded at least one of the grants and hit the ground running.
I want to clarify exactly what it is that I’m doing, since I have not really given a clear explanation so far. I am helping design a completely decentralized computer network to provide access to the internet without a direct connection to what most people think of as the “traditional” internet. However, the work goes far beyond this. The intention is not simply to share a connection to the internet using a wireless network, but to make it easy and efficient for computers to share data with each other in the event of a disruption in internet service. Another still important aspect of this network is that information will be stored close to where it is requested, so that if computers in one area - say, a class room, need some documents or perhaps an interactive applet to demonstrate a concept to students, they may fetch it from each other instead of making their own request to the original source. This is obviously a much more efficient approach than having every student in a Liberian class room fetch a PDF from some server in California if the internet connection is limited.
I want to emphasize that this network is being designed for general purpose use. The application is not specific to a classroom and is designed to be very very scalable.
There are many more details than this and if you have any questions you should get in contact with me.
Since I have started my open source project, Quorum, I have only written very basic code to complete certain parts of what I want. What I have right now is a scraper for reddit that collects the conversations and topics of the most discussed articles in all of the main categories.
When I get a chance I will be developing an interface for users to systematically arrive at a conclusion or agreement(at least at some level). One thing that people keep telling me is that technology cannot solve “human” problems. I understand that when it is all said and done this statement may be true, but my aim is more to develop a tool that allows people to look at the facts of a situation and discuss something together in a logical way. I am not trying to cure all human differences.
Another very exciting thing that has happened for me recently has been that I have gotten approval from my university to study the Pitch Black attack on the Freenet network and spend a semester looking for the best way to counteract the attack. The Freenet project is probably one of the most important networking experiments out there, I highly suggest you check it out.
That’s it. I hope this post was a little more coherent than my last post.