Welcome to the Press Corps

I have for the most part silently lamented over what I termed yesterday in reply to a friends publication as “competitive derision” ; this escalation of nastiness from people who have otherwise been welcomed connections or as this editorial outlet would describe as “friends” I have seen very smart people, people for whom I have great respect, sink past reasonable argument and the healthy exchange of thought, into intentional hurt, bullying, name calling and sadly disconnection and angered muting.

There have been some who have let us know they have had enough, taking a break, or as upset as I have been with the banter. I think it is wise counsel for those who cannot tolerate the discourse or realize they need self-restraint to take a time out. Welcome back whenever you’re ready.

For weeks the heaviness of my heart has grown, knowing that the passion all you lot possess is wonderful, no matter which side of the fence you stand, but tact is lacking, respect has been abandoned and cheeky is favored over discussion.

I take this time out of my forced sabbatical and pause my paid writing not to condemn, judge or complain but to point out what are overlooked subtleties, as well as unload some of that heaviness with the hope of nothing but a consideration.

We are blessed to live during a wonderful time in history an era where we have a growing plethora of connective technology with thousands of media outlets, instant access to one another and information from all over the globe. Inside of all of the blessings lay responsibility, we cannot overlook that Social Media is more than a moniker, it is the definition of a powerful revolution, you have joined the press corps. What’s great is most of us have no formal training, no corporate editorial direction, no paid sponsorship, it is raw thought, from grass roots personal opinion and feeling, that has never been published, promoted or shared in such an instant broad way throughout our history. That same constitutional freedom of speech now attaches you as part of the unfettered press that requires responsibility, consideration and most of all veracity.

As part of my personal veracity, I read some historical perspectives of the press, enjoying once again some of the quintessential “Twainisms”. Commentary on newspapers that is still relevant when applied to the media outlets of today.
“It has become a sarcastic proverb that a thing must be true if you saw it in a newspaper. That is the opinion intelligent people have of that lying vehicle in a nutshell. But the trouble is that the stupid people — who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations — do believe and are molded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies.”
– “License of the Press,” speech, 31 March 1873

Resonance certainly exists between Twain’s commentary on newspapers and today’s internet based media outlets, with the new cliché “it must be true it was on the internet” . I don’t agree in total with Twain, the crucial point is credibility. We, all of us are now a large portion of the media, in that we have to take responsibility for getting the facts right. That means digging deep, talking to a range of people to get the different sides of the story, and checking facts rigorously. We should not hesitate to root out and expose lies, hypocrisy, and corruption, but we have to be sure of the facts before doing so.

Credibility also means avoiding exaggeration or scare-mongering just to garner attention. Your writing, stories, shares, posts, tweets and replies can’t be based on sources with an ax to grind or knowingly false with the intent to provoke a false argument.

I understand that we are in the midst of one of the most polarized political seasons in recent history. Our leaders past and present also need to share in and exhibit responsibility in bringing a nation together and continue forward. With my previously stated heaviness of heart also lives contrary hope and wonder. Even amongst all the nasty muck and voracious commentary, there are shared nuggets of thought that I learn from every day. My hardline opinions may soften or harden based on facts or substantiated opinion of others. Knowing that as a collective the elementary school tactics will not cease, but hopefully develop to the place where the majority are responsible, civil, honest, and world changing.

We have been given, given for free, great tools, an elevation of our voices to a world stage and with it the responsibility to openly discuss our similarities and differences. Let us not be purposely divisive, avoid the cheeky bullish behaviors and deculturating commentary. Continue with a sense of consideration, not abandoning any of your beliefs or principals but to argue and discuss points in a way that minds may be changed. Pugilism is not persuasive discourse. If you are always on the attack you leave no room for listening, if your publication is continually offensive, overstated or lacking facts your credibility and in that your ability to change minds and promote your opinion is lost. At the same time, those in opposition might just prove something to you, they may change something you previously held true and you can’t be frightened of that possibility with automated conflicted commentary. Listen, research, understand and with truth, compassion, responsibility and great hope. Welcome to the fourth estate.

Whether you are a proponent or opponent of our previous president, his eloquence is irrefutable and the words in his last speech should resonant with any side and actionable by the same;
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.
Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.
If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.
If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”
-Barack Obama farewell address 2017

Balanced in spirit, from our newly installed president words that should be held close, measured and goal-worthy; “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”
-Donald Trump inaugural speech 2017

One last bit of Twain towards closing, while promotion of civility and responsibility has been paramount in my thought and sharing of thought here, there is an antithetical consideration for satirical commentary, tongue in cheek and subtle poking, just be kind and understanding. Substitute Social Media for “our papers” and this as well holds true today.

“Our papers have one peculiarity — it is American — their irreverence . . . They are irreverent toward pretty much everything, but where they laugh one good king to death, they laugh a thousand cruel and infamous shams and superstitions into the grave, and the account is squared. Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. “
-Mark Twain’s Notebook

Outernet, it’s not about You!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanedavis

@w9bed_bryan

Stumbling about through various tech and radio forums one night, I happened across a thread about the “Outernet”, egotistically thinking what is this Outernet and why did it take two years  for me to discover it?

Logo https://outernet.is/

Seems I am in good company, while a quick Google search will return plenty of information, there is seemingly very little press promoting this enchanting technology.

Outernet calls itself “Radio for the digital age” which while technically correct, leads to a bit of confusion, Outernet is not about audio transmission, but “filecasting” .  From the Outernet website; “Outernet’s filecast is a groundbreaking innovation in broadcasting, marrying radio broadcasting with file delivery, transcending the format and time limitations of traditional radio or TV broadcasting.”

Still confused?  That’s Okay, Outernet is about transmitting files over radio transmissions VIA satellite to receivers which receive data and display the “filecasted” information on any web browser in a style reminiscent to the bulletin boards of the 80’s. Radio in contrary, the online experience holds with a traditional file hierarchy themed as a public library. With Librarian as the home page title, content is accessed using a simple, traditional, intuitive interface.

Curiosity piqued,  I ordered Outernet’s DIY components to receive their L-Band service to experience this alternative method of data sharing firsthand.  This is not a how-to or DIY article so briefly, the components arrived within a few days (they only traveled 30 miles VIA post) and went together within minutes.  I found a suitable spot that coincides with one of the Inmarsat Geostationary Satellite locations, fiddled around with the small L-Band receiving antenna to get the signal to noise ratio down and that was it, data packets were being received and cached.  As depicted, the installation is not pretty, not in an ideal location, nor permanent.  That was purposeful if this technology was deployed in the most rural areas, the poorest areas, likely with little technical prowess it not always going to be pretty. It had to function, as well it did.   After my successful “installation” I remembered all the websites and YouTube videos I watched while I awaited the hardware, so I knew best thing was to come back the next day and see what I had captured.

 

Installed Ugly!

 

Quick and dirty setup of the Outernet components…. Hey it works!

Sure enough the next day there were news stories, comprehensive world weather, and other bits of content some interesting, some seemingly specifically uploaded for a particular audience, very cool stuff.  The bitrate was very close to the 2kbps that Outernet mentions in spec, equal to about 20MB of content daily.   Okay, I see your faces, I know,  the question is naturally Why?  20MB in a day?   This is 2017 not 1984!  Yes I understand, if you are reading this, It’s NOT ABOUT YOU!    You have access to more content than consumable.  This is about the majority of the world population that does not have access to data.  It’s wonderful that the hobbyists among us are curious enough to try it out, to understand and through that curiosity help keep Outernet running and developing and transmitting data, but understand, this experience is not about You.

Browser Homepage.

 

Community Content page.

Those without…. Most of us

From the website http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ who provide yearly statistics of internet users to world population,  in 2016 we had not reached 50%  penetration of population.  Think of that the next time you complain about your WiFi.

Year Internet Users** Penetration
(% of Pop)
World
Population
Non-Users
(Internetless)
1Y User
Change
1Y User
Change
World Pop.
Change
2016* 3,424,971,237 46.1 % 7,432,663,275 4,007,692,038 7.5 % 238,975,082 1.13 %

 

Outernet has the potential to deliver content into areas where for the nearly 5 billion people today who lack basic internet access either because they live in remote rural areas or due to restrictive censorship on the part of the local government.   That’s what excites me! Other than the hardware cost  it is free, the technology can be solar powered,  has a self-contained Wi-Fi hotspot for easy connection, suffers from  few security concerns  (and let’s face it, this is certainly not a hacker target) and most importantly can get critical information including weather, health and safety to those who don’t have and have never had access!

Reasons why 4 billion don’t have internet access!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where are these people?  Of course, they are everywhere, but this map illustrates the neediest in the world.

Keep it Simple

Quoting the Outernet website, their content goals.   (https://outernet.is/content-guidelines)

CONTENT GOALS

We do not have strict rules about what content topics belong on Outernet, but we encourage users to submit content that satisfies one of the following principles. That said, we also enjoy funny cat videos.

EDUCATION – A work that enables a user to be a more informed participant in society or aids in moving them towards a higher plane of knowledge or skill.

TRUTH – A work should be true and support the right of the public to truth.

TRANSPARENCY – A work should allow a user to have greater understanding of the institutions that affect their daily life.

EMPOWERMENT – A work that gives a user an enhanced ability to manipulate the course of their life towards their intended goal.

HEALTH AND SAFETY – A work that provides the information to lead a healthier, safer, and ultimately more enjoyable life.

QUALITY OF LIFE – A work that either directly or indirectly provides a means for a user to improve their quality of life.

Wonderful stuff for those without, sharing downloadable PDF books for children in remote areas to study, weather information,  simple things that most of us take for granted available to those who have never had.  It’s what our “information age” should be all about.

Some of the recent content downloaded includes:  interactive weather data, BBC News, Medline, World Health Organization files, Ham Radio files, Offline Wikipedia pages, every time you look there is something new as someone has uploaded content (that is proctored, monitored for acceptable content, yes it is censored)

Censored

Reminding you that our normal unfiltered American internet experience is not the intent, this is about education and access to vital, helpful data.  Since this data is available to locations who have stricter laws, different customs and government bans, Outernet’s premise is, if it doesn’t belong in the public library, it doesn’t belong on Outernet. Remember that library theme? Agreed, I am all about free speech and an open internet but when you have a very small bucket of content, an audience who has very little and focusing towards useful data (ok you can make your judgment on useful) relevant streamline content is paramount.

Who are they?

“Outernet Inc is a global broadcast data company which received its initial investment from the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), a United States-based impact investment fund and non-profit organization established in 1995 Outernet’s goal is to provide free access to content from the web through geostationary and Low Earth Orbit satellites, made available effectively to all parts of the world.”

The company’s co-founder, Syed Karim, told the BBC  “When you talk about the internet, you talk about two main functions: communication and information access,”. “It’s the communication part that makes it so expensive.”

A single receiver in an African village, according to Karim’s  Ted Talk, could provide reams of valuable information to as many as 300 local residents—everything from school texts, agricultural texts to health, and human services. “If you were in the vicinity of a hotspot receiving the data from the satellite, you would be able to connect with Outernet on your phone and see Librarian—our index software—as if it was just an offline website,” he said. “There you would find the data, stored in files.”

 

What we can do?

If you see the value of placing human services, educational and health data in the hands of those without, the single best action is to promote, build awareness, and spread the word.  Secondly if your curious and a hobbyist sort, buy a lantern or the DIY bits and assemble your own, you will garner a great experience, understand and appreciate what you already have, while supporting future development and refinement of the platform.  Spread the word, it may not be for you, but it’s not all about you is it??

The Outernet Lantern appliance