#FAIL: Black boxes, open-source, and the collaborative futures of the internet
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#FAIL: Black boxes, open-source, and the collaborative futures of the internet



Alison Powell's talk at ISDT11.

Alison Powell's talk at ISDT11.



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#FAIL: Black boxes, open-source, and the collaborative futures of the internet #FAIL: Black boxes, open-source, and the collaborative futures of the internet Presentation Transcript

  • #FAIL: What we learn from failed tech projects
    Alison Powell, London School of Economics
    Twitter: @postdocal
    • 'Failure' and 'Success' in citizen technology projects
    • Defining Failure
    • Systemic vs Partial Failure
    • Transparent vs Opaque Failure
    • Stated vs Unstated Goals
    • Policy contributions of 'failed' networks
    • New taxonomy?
  • The Vision of the Open Internet
    “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”
    Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, John Perry Barlow
  • The Reality of the Black Box
  • Community Wireless Networks (2000-2008)
  • Great Expectations:
    Some Frameworks for citizen technology projects
    Citizen Engagement
    • Alternative Technology
    • Policy Challenge/Governance
    • Enterprise and business
  • Types of Failure
    Systemic vs Partial Failure (Heeks, 2005)
    • Easier to understand systemic failure
    • Partial failure requires recognition of subjectivityTransparent Failure (Kuhn, 1963)
    • Contributes to future learning or progress
    • Includes planned obsolescence
    • Generative vs disruptiveOpaque Failure
    • Unclear what has failed or how
    • Perhaps the result of undeclared goals at odds with policy/legal frames
  • CWN Policy Expectations
    Innovation Policy
    • CWNs can model demand for broadband
    • CWNs can create new organizational formsSocial Policy
    • CWNs can bridge the digital divideCommunication Policy
    • CWNs can create P2P alternatives (mesh networks)
  • Community Typology of Network Types
    commerce net: develops new services or business models
    culture net:showcases art, culture and community or is viewed as an artistic project
    demo net: demonstrates proof of concept of a technology or mode of organization
    equiNet: promotes community wireless as a means of addressing the digital divide
    political-Net: draws attention to political issues and the politics of access to communications
    picnic net: brings together a social group
  • Some notable failures
    Political Nets (Berlin and Portland, OR)
    • CWN in Berlin built mesh network to highlight redlining of East Berlin. Network functions poorly
    • In Portland, CWN replaced by corporate network. Community monitored commercial network's performanceEqui-Nets (France, various)
    • Replaced by commercial networks
    • Drove campaign for public access to spectrumPicnic-Nets (Serbia and Athens)
    • Significant innovation – often illegal
    • Social relations more important than technical innovation
  • Today's project: a new taxonomy of failures
  • Redefining Failure
    Policy (and law) posit transparent relations between goals and outcomes
    Yet legally marginal actions have outcomes of public benefit
    So too do 'failed' projects
    Is it possible to develop policy to encourage unstated goals?
  • Learning from Failure
    Design methods
    Effective use
    Critique of power