Against the Big Brother WIFI. Smart Grid Connectivity. Uh-ah, vikings!
Exactly 30 years after, George Orwell’s 1984 is already here. We are monitored preys of the Big Spider’s WorlWideWeb. It´s not a bad thing in a normal easy day of the captive swarm, but one day, you need to escape.
Along the story of humanity, before internet existed, other ways of control were installed. Of course, some means of control are always necessary in a human organization, if we want to call it society, but the point is always about how we use it. In all those cases, the mass, the rebelling crowd, vindicated old social organizing methods to be able to escape from currently running top-down ties.
In this our era of globalization, we could point out two big Webs, linked inseparably between them: the Energy Network and the Communication Network. Already for some years now, visionaries of the future like Jeremy Rifkin are exciting us with the hope of a promptly emerging Smart Grid that will somehow liberate us from the energy World Wide Cuffs. There is some mumbling rumor down there, things are happening, something is moving, but still… a long way to go.
But suddenly, as it always happened in history, rioting sparks up sleeping possibilities. Thousands of young dudes are rebelling in Hong Kong against an incipient top-down stalking possibility. Among all those buddies, an important percentage of them are already skillfully trained geek brains with a level of knowledge higher than any of their preceding immediate generation. Technology is going so fast that they are the first generation born with a tactile mobile in their hands, they can screw us up with a couple of finger movements.
And they rescued something already vintage, something we average users, had disregarded in our smartphones. It´s weird, but a technology created in the mid nineties, can look nowadays an old fashioned thing; yes, the world is moving fast. With a name taken after a scandinavian king, Bluetooth shows up again to make the revolt work outside the web. A Smart Grid of phones. Uh-ah, vikings!
It’s not the first time protesters are using this weapon, in the recent Taiwanese revolt, this off-the-grid resource started to spread over the rioting groups. A french born App, Firechat is igniting a spark to spark phenomenon. It’s just general concepts of physics, when you compress something hot, it finds an escape valve to release energy, expand and readapt (resilience at its best).
With so many people gathering together, the usual internet connection doesn´t work properly (besides being not free and we are talking about students in a big part), but as a second activating input, the Chinese government, in this currently ongoing HK case, had cut off Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. Last Sunday, they cancelled Instagram too, and that was the definitive switch.
With this kind of bottom-up connectivity, it happens just opposite to the usual behavior of a top-down network. With each new participant, the range of the network gets stronger, boosting the digital strength of the mass, empowering protesters as a group, as a structured embraced team. A Smart Grid of connectivity and, why not, of energy, of human energy.
So, are we attending a vintage rebirth of Bluetooth-like technologies? Is this a way to help out Public Participation even outside massive revolts? Firechat and similar Apps are not the only ones in peeking back at Bluetooth possibilities. The i-beacon technology, working on BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is offering us a way to explore possibilities for outdoor and indoor communication both with everyday objects and with the city.
And here we are an interesting point. Ubiquity is ok, but what about the real world of places, cities and human scale urban feelings?Everybody is developing ubiquitous Apps, systems that allow you to walk the city without the need of taking your eyes off your nice mobile, but what i we re-balance the equation? Why not use these weapons to really build physical objects, connected, yes, but emotionally touchable and creating meeting points and activating real spots in the city (and out of the city, where green rules). Let´s not just talk on Public Participation and about giving architecture and urban planning back to the user/citizen and really do it, make it. Uh-ah, vikings, uh-ah, city designers!
An article by Juan Sadaba – director of nerei emotional intelligent