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The Power of Stories to Build Networks

Over the last year, we’ve watched with interest as the tech industry press published various articles inspired by HBO’s hugely popular ‘Silicon Valley’ TV show. Although the show is one of those rare beasts – one that’s both funny and accurate about the industry it’s parodying – it was the story of an attempt by a wacky startup to pivot and build a decentralised internet that really captured their attention.

As the articles point out, the startup’s idea is not quite as crazy as it first sounds, with each one explaining that this type of work is actually taking place in the real world. For the most part, these articles then focused on a few specific companies who’ve recently been working in a similar area. But there was little, if any, mention of MaidSafe or the SAFE Network (something that was pointed out in various places by our community on the Safenet Forum amongst other places).

So for those who watched the series premiere of Season 5 of ‘Silicon Valley’ earlier this week, the eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed a few familiar names at the end of the show…

Silicon Valley Credits

Credits from Season 5 of ‘Silicon Valley’

Yes, that’s right – David, Nick and Viv have had a number of conversations behind the scenes with the team behind Silicon Valley. We were delighted to provide advice to the production team of Silicon Valley (including a face to face meeting at the studios in Hollywood). Mind you, we’re not holding out for that trip in kilts to the Emmys quite yet….  

You might ask why, with so many other things going on, we got involved. The answer’s quite straightforward really. As one of the most established ‘groups’ in this area, we’ve been working away at building a new decentralised internet since 2006. We understand both the crucial importance and the complexity of pulling off such an audacious goal – and we’ll continue to do all that we can to support the awareness of what a decentralised web means for the world.

Significant changes in society are the culmination of many different factors. And it’s important to remember that every great societal change is preceded by the stories that first get created, shared and adopted by individuals. Stories bring people together, creating natural networks of individuals. They create the foundations that allow networks to grow and ultimately enable us to pursue goals collectively that are far greater than any one person can achieve alone. The pattern has been repeated time and again throughout history. And it’s a sign of the times that we live in that the focus of our obsession with the SAFE Network has now become the subject of a top-ranked TV show.

It’s hard to imagine the same thing happening even a couple of years ago. But today every one of us can now see different flavours of the same basic stories around data security becoming increasingly popular as conversation themes across many different groups. And as these stories spread, so do the numbers of concerned people who engage publicly with issues that we all must ultimately resolve around topics such as Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (amongst so many others). 

Admittedly, we’re sensitive to the fact that these stories are building – because we are utterly committed to the goals of the decentralised web. Today’s internet is broken. It’s not just affecting the privacy of individual consumers. It is now leading to censorship, fake news and attempts (often successful as we now discover) to interfere in the democratic process. We passionately believe that we have to take a stand to defend what we believe to be the fundamental values of the internet: openness, privacy and freedom of expression.

It’s great to see such a high profile award-winning show take on these all-too-prescient topics. But it’s about far more than that. For us, it’s fantastic to watch as these goals become shared by ever greater numbers of people and collectively we can sense the pent-up demand for action before it’s too late. So please now, more than ever, help us to spread the word that a change is needed. The decentralised internet is coming. We can’t guarantee the SAFE Network will be live by the end of Season 5…..but we can guarantee that we won’t stop until we’ve delivered it.

MAIDSAFE AND EXCHANGES

Yesterday we were informed that Bittrex are going to be delisting MaidSafeCoin. The suddenness of the news, which takes effect on the 9th of March, came as a surprise. The rapidly changing regulatory landscape in the US (where Bittrex are based) is evidenced with the SEC taking a greater interest and more proactive approach in cryptocurrencies. While we can’t say too much about the process that led to the decision (as we had been asked to sign NDAs) the reason provided was MaidSafeCoin’s current lack of utility on the SAFE Network.

What next

We appreciate liquidity is very important to MaidSafeCoin holders and moving forward we are currently having discussions with multiple exchanges and have already put plans in place to list with a large exchange outside the US. We will be working with them on promoting the new listing and we’ll make a joint announcement about this as soon as we can. MaidSafeCoin continues to be traded on Poloniex, HitBTC, Upbit, Cryptopia and CoinSpot.

For those who have coins listed on Bittrex they confirm on their website that they will give users “…up to 14 days to withdraw any delisted tokens, but in certain instances the withdrawal period may be shortened. Users should withdraw any tokens before the posted withdrawal deadline.”

Focus remains on product

This announcement comes at a time when things are going well within the company and the community. Our team has continued to grow with quite a few new recruits being hired in recent weeks. The company is also well funded and there is more than sufficient resources to facilitate Network beta launch and market the network.

We’re also looking forward to hosting SAFE DevCon 2018 on the 23rd of April 2018 in Ayr, Scotland as it represents a fantastic opportunity to spend some time with part of our 7,500 strong community who are actively developing a number of apps that include decentralised content management systems (SAFE CMS), a decentralized music player (JAMS), file storage (SAFE FS), mail applications and many more. Many of these apps are already designed to support the SAFE Networks new bespoke web browser which is currently being community tested.

This continued focus on ‘the product’ is where we believe we provide real value, both to the world at large and to holders of MaidSafeCoin.

So despite this setback, there is much to be optimistic about in the near future. We will update you with additional exchange listings in collaboration with our partners and keep you updated with development updates weekly via the forum.

Announcing SAFE DevCon 2018

 

SAFE DevCon 2018

We’re happy to announce that we’re running our second DevCon in Ayr!

On Monday 23rd April 2018, the global MaidSafe team will be descending on Ayr Racecourse for an event that’s focused primarily on developers who are currently working (or wanting to work) on SAFE Network apps.

Whilst we’ve held various events previously (not least the conference in Asia in 2017) and the community has been running meetups around the world for the past few years, it’s the first time that we’ll have all the team in one location for a day solely dedicated to the SAFE Network.

The full agenda will be published in a couple of weeks – but you can assume that we’ll have a wide range of speakers from across the different areas of the protocol running through the existing state of the SAFE Network, laying out the plans for the year ahead and highlighting a few of the many apps that are flourishing independently from developers around the world.

For 2018, we’ve decided to keep the numbers small. For developers that can make their way to Ayr, we’ll be covering the costs of two night’s accommodation around the Conference. If we have too many applicants, we’ll choose by drawing names from a hat and get back to each applicant (hopefully by Thursday 22nd February) to confirm whether they’ve been successful in securing a ticket.

And those of you within the Community who live around the world and won’t be able to travel, don’t worry – we plan to stream the whole event live and share the videos afterwards.

So if you’d like to come along, take the unique opportunity to meet the full MaidSafe team and hear the very latest about all things SAFE Network, please email us directly at outreach@maidsafe.net (including your safenetforum handle).

 

MaidSafe Developer Conference 2017

If someone would have told us that our first developer conference would be held 7,500 miles away from Troon we would most certainly not have believed them. However, on the 20th of February, in conjunction with our partners at MaidSafe Asia, we found ourselves Fairmont Hotel in Jakarta hosting MaidSafe Devcon 1. With a population of 300 million Indonesia is one of Asia’s most populated countries. With a thriving developer scene and a highly motivated populace, Jakarta, the country’s capital, proved to be an excellent location.

Short note about MaidSafe Asia

We first announced the intention to set up a joint venture in 2016 and we are now delighted to be able to confirm that the agreement has been signed off and the entity MaidSafe Asia has been incorporated in Singapore. As a quick refresher, the intention in setting up this partnership is to enable MaidSafe UK to focus on developing the network, scale the development team and support developers on the platform. MaidSafe Asia’s priorities are to raise awareness, reach out to developers and generally market the technology. In fact, the name MaidSafe Asia maybe somewhat misleading as we start to discuss extending the area in which the new entity operates. This is a fluid situation and we will keep everyone updated as things progress. Anyway, back to the conference.

Different attitudes

The conferences 250 attendees came from all across Indonesia with some groups even travelling from Singapore and beyond. Many of the developers were freelancers, but also included those working for companies, and some very eager students.

During the morning session, Nick introduced the high level concepts of the SAFE Network and issues with the existing Internet, and the problems caused by it’s current centralised architecture. David spoke later during the morning session, describing MaidSafe’s vision, and the benefits the platform will offer to developers.

David explains the vision

David explains the vision

Nick describes centralised threats

Nick describes centralised threats

 

What struck us speaking with local people both during and after the event was the different attitudes that both users and developers have toward data security. Both of these issues are becoming of ever increasing importance in the UK and Europe, but these concerns are not shared to the same extent in Indonesia. Developers in Indonesia are more excited by the prospect of being able to compete with large technology companies using SAFEs costless infrastructure, and the concept of Safecoin was something that also seemed to resonate, with many liking the built in revenue streams that it provides. Monetisation it seems is a more significant factor.

CoinPayments

After presenting at the main conference, David and Nick went to speak with members of the press and were joined by Coin Payments CEO Alex Alexandrov. Coin Payments, a partner of MaidSafe Asia, are the largest alt coin payment processor in the world, processing in excess of $50million of transactions per month and have 132,000 vendors across 182 different countries. Processing over 55 alt coins, including of course MaidSafeCoin, the company have been great supporters of the the SAFE Network and are great advocates of our technology. They have also created their own MaidSafeCoin wallet and offer secure coin storage via their vault. You can find out more on their website.

Getting down to business

By the time that Krishna’s developer workshop started in the afternoon session, the polite and shy audience had lost any inhibitions, and became animated and engaged as Krishna explained the networks data types, the core concepts behind the APIs, before going on to showcase the developer tutorials that have been created. It was evident from the questions that followed Krishna’s first afternoon session that the audience had taken much of the information on board.

Developers put Krishna through his paces

Developers put Krishna through his paces

Krishna explains the APIs

Krishna explains the APIs

 

Krishna’s second session focussed upon the current transition from our REST API paradigm, which while being language agnostic does not cater well for mobile devices. REST demands that the devices hold state which is problematic given the fact that mobile devices automatically disconnect from networks after very short periods. Explaining our current transition to an SDK, he gave an overview of the plans for the next few months, specifically the transitioning of the existing example applications and producing new developer documentation.

After the closing remarks the event finished with much hand shaking and more questions from the attendees whom it cannot be emphasised enough where some of the most friendly conference attendees we have ever had the pleasure to meet. It was also great to see so many female coders, who, while still outnumbered by their male counterparts, were as well represented as we have seen at any recent conference we have attended.

The following day, David and Nick gave filmed interviews with CNN Indonesia. The interviewer politely confirmed our suspicions that Indonesians are not as concerned as we are in Europe regards security and privacy of data, but are very much interested in the sharing economy and the desire to contribute to a crowd sourced Internet. Maybe in time attitudes will change, although maybe they won’t have to as the SAFE Network continues to roll out and starts to deliver the security and privacy many Britons and Europeans value so highly.

Developer Case Study – Dsensor

Decentralized Mapping Protocol Project – Dsensor

Continuing our series of case studies highlighting early stage application development on the SAFE (Secure Access For Everyone) Network, Dsensor is being developed by James Littlejohn. James explored various platforms to store and protect the data he would be collecting and decided to use the SAFE Network, because it reflected his belief that the network should not be driven by economics, but be focused first and foremost on the data.

MaidSafe’s fully secure, decentralised approach supported James’ view that knowledge or data should be in the complete control of user. While it is early days, Dsensor’s use of the SAFE Network APIs in its proof of concept form shows its potential as a viable platform for the management of data. James was also attracted to the SAFE Network, because of its strong encryption, and its ability to break data into chunks before scattering it around the decentralised network of nodes. This ensures the highest possible security and privacy for users when combined with the decentralised architecture, which avoids offering hackers central points of attack on a network, as we experience in today’s centralised, server-based model.

Being open source and supported by a strong community in the SAFE Network forum also means James has ready access to experts and potential partners, who can help to build out the application and trouble-shoot any technical questions. In the future James may also explore using safecoin to incentivise participation on Dsensor.

The Problem with Science

James Littlejohn has been involved in entrepreneurial projects since the dot com boom and while investigating opportunities around text mining identified an opportunity for lifestyle linking analytics, particularly in the area of wearable tech. In the course of his evaluation he recognised a broader application to data mining and analysis in the field of scientific and academic research. James assessed a number of drivers, including emerging technologies and changing economic conditions, which were beginning to have an effect on the way research was conducted.

Firstly, walled garden applications such as Facebook and wearable technologies were becoming more prevalent, and while they were a rich source of data on human activity, access to that information was restricted. At a time when the internet is supposed to be democratising many aspects of work and social life this is endangering an important source of information on lifestyle and health patterns, which could benefit societies around the world.

Secondly, the sustained economic impact of the financial crisis was creating significant pressure on public funding for research at a time when it was needed more than ever. Technology and the availability of large amounts of data is leading to opportunities for breakthroughs in a wide variety of academic and research fields. If the funding is not available via traditional public sources then there is an urgent to find new forms of investment. The rise of alternative cryptocurrencies could potentially address this point, offering a new, fairer way to incentivise and reward individuals for participating in research projects. For example, James envisages a scenario where the grant funder might ‘tokenise’ a percentage of their funding money and issue it via a science blockchain (like Dsensor). This would help to ensure the funding could be traced directly ensuring good governance of scientific research projects and fairer access to resources.

The final driver for a new model reflects an on-going debate about the model of peer-reviewed scientific research. For a number of years there has been a recognition of some fundamental weaknesses in the model in areas such as the replicability of research. In a poll conducted by Nature in May 2016 more than 70% of researchers admitted they had tried and failed to reproduce the experiments of other scientists and more than 50% failed to reproduce their own experiments. Of course this is in part due to the nature of frontier scientific research, which is reliant on trial and error, but there are clearly inefficiencies in the process.

Furthermore, there are questions about efficiency of current research models – in 2009 Chalmers and Glaziou identified some key sources of avoidable waste in biomedical research. They estimated that the cumulative effect was that about 85% of research investment – equating to about $200 billion of the investment in 2010 – is wasted. A blockchain provides a potential solution to this reproducibility crisis as Dr. Sönke Bartling and Benedikt Fecher outline in their paper, “Blockchain for science and knowledge creation.” Although scientific research should be delivered at arm’s length from the individual contributors it is ultimately reliant on individual scientists to gather and interpret data without bias. It is also often reliant on finite data sets, controlled samples or clinical trials, thus limiting the ability to cross reference the findings against other data sources.

Given the availability of data via the internet and the rise of automation technologies, such as machine learning, James believes that if individuals have control of their information they can decide to contribute their information to research projects without the interference of third parties such as academics or technology providers. Using automation scientists, academics – and more importantly citizen scientists – can draw data from anywhere in the world beyond the confines of a specific controlled sample and review independently to provide a data driven outcome.

Building A Blockchain for Science Research – A Truth Engine for Mankind

James’ investigation of text mining approaches led him to peer to peer models, which were enabling the owners of data to take control of how and with whom their information was shared.  

It led to the development of Dsensor.org (Decentralized Mapping Protocol), a peer to peer network for science knowledge to be investigated, discovered and shared. It has been based on the principle of science “SenseMaking” and it is designed to evolve peer review to a computational consensus model.  Using Dsensor if a scientist creates a thesis and wants to test it the scientist enters the hypothesis in computational form (called a Dmap in Dsensor speak) . The Mapping protocol then automates the testing of the science, starting by trawling the Dsensor network for relevant data from other peers. That data is then sampled and ‘scored’ based on its prediction power to verify or challenge the thesis until a computation consensus is established.  Science attaining this status then becomes ‘computationally active’ in the network meaning any peer has the ability to tap into the collective knowledge and feed in their own unique sensor data get the insights from the science working for them.

James has the ambitious goal to become a “truth engine for mankind” ensuring science is based on openness, transparency and reproducible results, essentially checking the accuracy of peer review.  Dsensor intends to deliver this outcome by building a network of trustless peers, which has inherit vast complexity making it economically and technically very costly and difficult to corrupt.  Dsensor, currently at proof of concept stage utilises  the Ethereum blockchain, using its cryptography and a variant of the proof of work process to create a technological and mathematical state where even with colluding computers it is impossible to game the system.   Rather than creating complexity using a proof of work Dsensor creates uncertainty using random sampling, in particular the selection of peers from the network and data sampling techniques.  The data sampling techniques are selected by each autonomous peer and the network sampling is a property of the Protocol for selecting peers from a Distributed Hash Table. In theory once the network gains a certain size the economic cost of gaming the network with false sensor data to support a fraudulent scientific computation will become extremely costly.

Additional safeguards include the role of reproducibility in science.  This creates an immutable audit trail or “mapping accounting” entries that support the most truthful science available to the network.  These networks are called GaiaBlocks and are open to be challenged by any peer on the network.  Scoring of the science also provides a rating model for scientific research and individual peers on the network.  Peers with poor outcomes will be demoted in favour of more highly rated scientific computations.

 

Glocalization of Internet Freedom

For the first week of March several hundred internet freedom activists from all around the world gathered for the Internet Freedom Festival in the Las Naves collaborative space in Valencia, Spain for a wide variety of sessions addressing tools, policies and perspectives within privacy and security on the Internet. Trainers, developers, journalists, technologists and those simply curious to learn from 76 countries traded perspectives and skills while forming bonds to continue collaboration post-festival and strengthen support for each others work. Previously named the “Circumvention Tech Festival”, the event organizers placed a strong emphasis on creating a safe space for open collaboration without compromising privacy and identity for those attending at the risk of local oppressive governments learning of certain individual’s attendance. A strict no photography rule was set in place in addition to the Chatham House rule (not referring to identities in referencing quotes or points individuals made) for note taking and general future discussion of the topics presented. Attention was also put on meeting other attendees through prioritizing sessions with discussion and collaborative activities. Session topics ranged from threat modeling through holistic risk analysis to community networks and the process of flashing routers to build a mesh. The entire festival offered a beating pulse of local perspectives on digital privacy and security while simultaneously highlighting the need for global collaboration in regards to building tools, advocating policy and strengthening communications within this community and beyond.

The concept of “glocalization” which permeated throughout the event was perfectly introduced to me in the first session that I attended at the festival; Glocalization for Noobs: How to Design Tools for a Global Audience where panelists discussed and advocated for integrating the process of translation more tightly into software development. They discussed the translation of software going beyond localizing text and taking into consideration the entire user experience from perspectives of various regions. While many products are marketed towards specific areas, most software is used globally, or at the least have potential for wider adoption and would benefit from the review of testers in various locales. Importance on focusing attention on region specific points of view continued throughout the event where a handful of meetups dedicated time to discussing the state of Internet security and surveillance in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Sessions also incorporated this focus recognizing and addressing the particular hurdles of regions. The session Network disconnections: Effects on Civil and Trade Rights included a short presentation on the regular disruptions in internet access people in Pakistan face and subsequent research followed by a general discussion about the broader topic of region-wide disruptions usually due to political pressure and what policy and economic arguments can be made in opposition. Other sessions focused on the general sense of considering global communities and allowing respective perspectives to be shared together. Privacy Across Cultures was dedicated to a discussion on what the impact of privacy and its absence has meant in various cultures beyond freedom of expression and focusing on more long term effects.

Beyond the diverse cultural representation at the event, there was also a wide array of representatives from tools, new and old. In one workshop session titled Deploy an emergency Libre-Mesh network with local services, we formed in small groups and flashed routers with libre-mesh to form a p2p network. It was one of the fastest and most simple efforts of flashing a router to build a mesh network that I’ve ever experienced – it took about 30 minutes total for all 7 groups (with a range of familiarity of flashing routers) to connect with each other. If mesh networks are something of interest to you or your community, I highly recommend checking out libre-mesh. Additionally, one of the evening’s featured a tool showcase of 15 technologies ranging from a service called Stingwatch for detecting and reporting locations of Stingrays (fake cellphone towers used by authorities for tracking individuals) to the more well known Freedombox (security and privacy focused software for personal servers). Unfortunately, I was not privy to this portion of the event beforehand and not aware of the status of the MVP launch, else I would have loved to participate and demo the SAFE network to the crowd. Alas, I was able to do so in a more intimate setting for a session of it’s own. Having attended the festival with the intention of presenting a more general session on improving communications on network topologies and ownership infrastructures (based on previous explorations of the topic), I was able to join several dozen others who created “self-organized” sessions which were added in the schedule as the week progressed. This session was much less interactive other than various questions from participants but because we have software to show now, I was able to finish the presentation with a successful demo of the SAFE Launcher and example app to a crowd for the first time!

Overall, the Internet Freedom Festival was a huge success from a personal perspective by highlighting a variety of topics from technology to communications and diversity. To achieve true internet freedom worldwide, we must consider localized efforts and understand that needs vary from region to region by listening rather than assuming. Digital security training has expanded throughout the world and understanding the array of obstacles that regions face will help us build better software. I feel confident that the SAFE network will be a strong example of building a diverse, global community (as we see it happening already) but also appreciate the strong reminder that this will happen much more efficiently if we put effort towards diversifying our perspective. While the MaidSafe core team has a regionally diverse team itself, community-based development and translation efforts will continue be essential if we want to make SAFE a truly global network. I really look forward to attending Internet Freedom Festival again next year with a proper SAFE network up and running while expanding my understanding even more to make the network accessible to more people (and hopefully capture a few other team members to attend as well).

Strengthening Communities And Building Clocks Together

As the social media storm around Ahmed Mohamed and his clock exploded open in support of the 14 year old maker last week, it seemed like everyone was sharing a positive story about DIY and hacking – so to keep the momentum going, I’ll throw another one out into the mix. MaidSafe holds the concepts of curiosity and creativity very dear to our hearts and promoting them is an integral part of the MaidSafe Foundation. This foundation is a non-profit that has existed for just about as long as the company and has accomplished several milestones thus far. Many may not be aware of this part of MaidSafe’s mission as our efforts have been heavily focused on the company and developing the SAFE Network software. The Foundation was formed when MaidSafe’s founder, David Irvine, decided to give all his shares in the company away to a newly formed charity dedicated to promoting “freedom and facilitation for everybody to learn, to innovate and to contribute their unique talents to make our world a better place”. Thus, the Foundation is the largest shareholder in the company and as the network launches, the amount of resources at the disposal of the Foundation will increase, helping it to realise more of its goals.

In particular, one of the Foundation’s core interests is focusing on the promotion of fab lab’s (aka fabrication laboratory) to foster a more decentralized and inclusive approach to making and learning. They are typically modest spaces which house various tools and resources for producing DIY projects. They exist in many forms around the world as community spaces within existing buildings or fixed standalone structures and even in large vans or trucks which allow temporary placement for events, or to share between communities. Some tools found in fab labs can include milling machines, 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing and embroidery equipment, electronics assemblies, etc. Fab lab’s create spaces for localised manufacturing which allow children and adults to learn skills together while facilitating a more open and intimate approach to learning. A lot of the time fab lab’s are found as part of hackerspaces which have the effect of bringing together people interested in hardware with those focused on software development to collaborate and learn from each other.

Much of today’s manufacturing is limited to factories created for mass production and while these tend to reduce overall cost by optimising for quantity and a reduction of skilled labor, it also creates a society which loses touch with the creative process of making and reinforces dependencies on central corporations. The inherent learning process in fab labs promotes idea sharing and open specifications, and while the open software movement has a thriving and ever expanding community, open hardware is behind. The cost of physical materials, tools and distribution present a unique set of challenges and overhead which generally require more capital and investment when compared to building software. Given an Internet connection and a laptop, almost anyone with a drive to learn can make use of online resources to start developing a better messaging, clock or health tracking app. Making software available to the world is as simple as uploading applications to a website or an app store. On the contrary it is a much more difficult process to bootstrap a hardware project such as a better smartphone case or a lower-cost prosthetic arm because the various tools used to create a single product are usually large and expensive while the cost of duplicating and distributing the product add up to even more. That’s not to say manufacturing isn’t on it’s way though, as we see with the growth of 3D printers of varying costs over the last decade and an increasing number of fab labs around the world housing basic tools for entire communities to make use of.

An interesting project aiming to break the cycle of mass production in favor of open specs and local manufacturing is KORUZA, a low cost wireless optical system providing 1Gbps networking connectivity for points up to 100m apart. These devices offer an alternative to WiFi in situations such as mesh networks where a density of points can cause radio interference problems. More generally, optical connections can offer lower cost means to extend existing fiber cables by removing the need to dig underground and obtain associated permissions for such. KORUZA is completely modular and is designed for DIY manufacturing using tools found in fab labs. The Slovenia based organisation behind its development, IRNAS is taking a step further to facilitate the creation of low-cost open hardware tools needed to build KORUZA and other open hardware projects. Their GoodEnoughCNC machines series aims to provide a micro-factory for around €10,000, consisting of a 3D printer, Plasma cutter, CNC Mill and Laser cutter which are in active use at kreator lab, a fab lab in Maribor, Slovenia. A highly recommended overview presentation of KORUZA and GoodEnoughCNC was given at this year’s Wireless Battle of the Mesh and also mentions an interesting collaboration project between several organisations for improving documentation of open hardware projects called DocuBricks. By removing the cost of distribution and empowering local communities with low cost tools, we can begin to see how the open hardware movement can facilitate a shift in perspective on economics and accessibility in manufacturing.

Spaces like these also have the power to strengthen community and understanding by bringing people together with common interests from different backgrounds to learn from one another. Children in particular could use a wider variety of alternative environments for learning which break the mold of the traditional education system. It is very unfortunate when a kid is shamed for their curiosity based on judgements founded in fear and prejudice. Several signs point towards an obvious observation: officials in Ahmed’s school in Texas made a biased assumption because of his race as a result of the general post-9/11 focus on terrorism in the Middle East. Perhaps the town of Irvine, Texas could use a fab lab of their own to facilitate opening up such closed-minded perspectives. Bringing people of all ages together around common interests would help facilitate in dismantling prejudices which lead to people fearing their neighbors. We look forward to continuing our efforts with the MaidSafe Foundation to create spaces which help to break down barriers, overcome borders and strengthen trust within communities around the world by facilitating a DIY culture and learning from one another.