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anishmg [GG] (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-08 04:47:00 (5 years 9 mons 18 days 09:30:00 ago)


Earlier in the summer, me and a friend, Mikko, were in the high altitude himalayan valley of Leh, Ladakh[1], where we setup a schoolserver and a few mesh nodes - all solar powered.

This is a report by Mikko on the setup, which I thought I'd share here :)


We hope to document this extensively, so that people can take it forward with the tools/hardware they have with them.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leh


Eric Myhre [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-08 11:22:00 (5 years 9 mons 18 days 02:55:00 ago)

That is amazing.  I hugely enjoyed reading about this, and seeing pictures of mesh networking deployed in the world really brings it home that this can be meaningful to lots of people.

I didn't find it in $favored_link_aggregator yet, so I submitted the story, if anyone on the HN platform/bandwagon cares to upvote it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12455563

I'd love to see this in front of lots of readers :)


Paul Frazee [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-08 11:25:00 (5 years 9 mons 18 days 02:52:00 ago)

Careful not to go directly to that HN link and click upvote. Speaking from experience, you'll easily set off the vote-ring detector.

Thomas Levine [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-08 15:20:00 (5 years 9 mons 17 days 22:57:00 ago)

I am very curious to read all about your offline media setup.

Shannon Tyler Cunningham [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-09 04:32:00 (5 years 9 mons 17 days 09:45:00 ago)

Realizing now that I was dumb and responded only to Anish. Forwarding to the group… Hello all. :)

On 09/09/2016 06:29 AM, Shannon Tyler Cunningham wrote:

Hi Anish,

I take issue with the NGO model because it is literally a corporate model. 501(c)(3)s in the US, for instance, must incorporate. That's centralization.

If you are self-funded, why incorporate? Why does this need to be "scalable?" Why would it need major funders in the future? I don't think we can claim to desire decentralization while fitting ourselves to a top-down, rigid institutional framework and attempting to curry the money of NGOs and companies. I ask these questions not to "trap" you, or even seeking for myself answers to them from you, just I guess hoping that questions like these will always be asked by ourselves to ourselves when we come up with solutions like you have.

I personally like the idea of cacheing entire resources like Wikipedia and expanding access (hence by support of Swartz attempting to download JSTOR with the hopes of uploading it illicitly), but I don't think we should work from the *assumption that connecting less connected populations is always beneficial to those populations. If that idea turns out to be a good fit for a given population/community/region, then by all means one should help that community in doing so (no strings attached and always ceding all control to the community in question), but always with the lesson of (e.g.) recent Ladakhi history itself in mind.

After all, in Ladakh specifically, we've seen *a lot* of the ill effects of Western and national cultural hegemony and cultural globalization (which necessarily flows much more strongly from "West" to "East" and from nation to community than vice versa under a [Western] hegemonic system of globalization) in many of its communities, including communities in Leh. I also think that neglected here is the concept that we should be preserving (cacheing, one might say) Ladakhi knowledge (and exporting it, should Ladakhis wish), rather than importing (national or global) hegemonic "knowledge" and systems of logic to Ladakh. The latter is also a form of centralization—of homogenization. And in the case of Ladakh at least, I'm sure you agree that much of the world has more to learn from Ladakh than Ladakh has to learn from the increasingly homogenized world. (If it's not yet obvious, I am kind of head over heels in love with Ladakh and have been for years. *Vajrayana Buddhist*)

I just think these issues always need to be critically examined and engaged with regard to all of our choices, and that we should interrogate a lot of the assumptions that we work from. I wouldn't say one should throw the baby out with the bathwater—what you've done here is very clever and I especially love the concept from a technical standpoint.

Best regards,

On 09/08/2016 11:17 PM, Anish Mangal wrote:
Dear Shannon,

"project" is somewhat ambiguous from where I stand.

In the context of *this* deloyment in Leh, it was funded by the two of us (Mikko, and Me -- mostly Mikko). He spends quite a bit of time in Leh every year so he knows the place and people inside out.

The same mesh+schoolserver idea was deployed in another Indian state, and there the model is commercial ... funds from the local administration went into the deployment of the server and network there. Me and a colleague are brainstorming ways right now to make this sustainable and scalable.

In the context of the open source project (which is XSCE - School Server Community Edition) , it is a loose group of volunteers collaborating remotely, but working locally with a common technology base. There would be some NGOs, some companies, some individuals in the mix.

Curious to know what you imply by NGO model. I am a strong believer in grassroots movements and local ownership of technology. My focus over the next few months is to make the technology available in human readable form, so anyone can understand, deploy using whatever model that fits best in their scenario.


On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 9:26 AM, Shannon Tyler Cunningham <shannonc...@riseup.net> wrote:

I hate to say I think we should consider moving away from the NGO model. Who is funding this project?

Best regards,

anishmg [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-09 10:04:00 (5 years 9 mons 17 days 04:13:00 ago)
Dear Shannon,

I agree with most of what you say. I will add that here in India, we're especially sensitive to "western" influences (having a history of colonial rule), and even access to Wikipedia may be considered by some as a form of cultural imperialism.

Anyway, I won't get much into that except to say that you raise very valid points. I hope that when Mikko publishes a follow up blog post, then he will look into these things.

In the context of the Ladakh deployment, we are working with cultural organizations there and have them collaborate and share media which they create. Share, not initially with the world (that comes later), but with each other - for starters, and hope to provide a platform for the same and fan out from there.

Same is the case for the other deployments in India I am involved in.

Lastly, it is so nice to meet a fellow Ladakh admirer/lover. It is a truly wonderful place, with incredible people, kindness and warmth :-)


Mikko Kotila [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-09-09 20:47:00 (5 years 9 mons 16 days 17:30:00 ago)

Thank you Anish for sharing the article, and for everyone else for the kind feedback  and sharing :) 

Shannon, thank you for taking the time to provide thoughtful commentary. To clear the air in respect to skynet and "organization", there is no NGO, and there is no 501(c) which as you suggest is really just a corporate with benefits. 

When it comes to India and NGOs, the situation is very complicated in my view. There are more than 1,000,000 NGO organizations on the ground. Many of these NGOs are not aligned with the long term interests of the communities, and in many cases this is not obvious initially. Money coming to NGOs is increasingly attached. Few years ago a friend from UNDP said "there just is no no-strings-attached money left. None." 

So far I looked at this problem through three areas of intervention / improvement; economy, education and health. A graphic below to highlight an example of how. I like the idea of thinking about culture in this context as well. I'm worried about the cultural apect more than others when I'm in Ladakh, but the fact I had not thought about it in the formal context says a lot. As you can see, it is entirely missing from my graphic. 

I think what we tend to do is come from the west, go to a place like India, and not realize that while the people there tend to be poorer, die younger and have less access to education, due to their rich culture there is something more than that. I mean we might have great appreciation for the culture, but at the same time we might be ambitious with our own interest. Even when there is no extra ambition, it is incredibly hard to understand causalities related with mixing disruptive technology and ancient cultures.

In case of skynet and what we had experimented with in Ladakh, there is no organization or immediate plan for organization, and there is no need for one. We're hoping to encourage the locals by example to "take over". We don't get money from anyone, and do not ask for any. We're working closely together with the local leaders in the preservation of Ladakhi Culture in Ladakh. It's like "everybody welcome, nobody invited." 

anishmg [GG] Re: (probably) the world's highest solar powered mesh network and offline media server setup 2016-12-11 19:29:00 (5 years 6 mons 13 days 18:48:00 ago)
Here is part two.
[Things I Learned Building the Skynet PART 2 — How to Eat Dust]

I also just returned from teaching a few (local) folks in Spiti valley to create mesh networking, and if they want, set it up in their villages/communities. So far, it looks like it is being setup in a couple of villages in the valley.