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Phone Communities and Activism Showcase

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From government overthrows in the Philippines to the Republican Convention in New York, telephony systems have been hacked to make political statements and empower the those without a voice. Rabble …

From government overthrows in the Philippines to the Republican Convention in New York, telephony systems have been hacked to make political statements and empower the those without a voice. Rabble and Blaine, two close observers of this space, take you on a tour of what people have done for themselves with the technology around them to create new and novel applications.

Talk given at the O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference in January 2006.

Published in: Technology, Business

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  • 1. Telephony and Activism
  • 2. The Means of Communication 0 Social Justice organizations have traditionally had no access to powerful telephony tools 0 Zero, or marginal, budgets 0 No organizational capacity to work with Carriers or Te| Cos 0 Just a strong desire to evoke positive social change
  • 3. pl gin . _l.3‘Hr;
  • 4. 0 August 2004 - Asterisk 0.9.7 0 500,000 people protesting in the NewYork streets. 0 We were in San Francisco, Vancouver, and in a cabin at 3000 ft in Northern California.
  • 5. RNCVOIP Info Line Text-to-Speech for Mobile RSS updates from lndymedia i Event Calendars using TTS and RSS Live Radio Call-in Streaming MP3 Radio Stations Total cost: $7
  • 6. SMS — TxtMob 0* Action alerts via SMS *1» Simple web-based signup Hi SMS groups it The prob| em: Spam Filters
  • 7. 2004 Elections ii Last-minute project: 3 weeks, 4 developers it Volunteer Coordination ii Polling Place Information
  • 8. Mass Messaging BIG Groups - 20,000 Volunteers Deliver messages by state Time sensitive: delivery within 20 minutes Repeat several times a day
  • 9. Mass Messaging is Hard *3 Massive obstacles accessing I000 lines *9 Vo| P resellers are good at promises ii Not so good at delivering *3 Call quality issues — delays, drops. it Never delivered projected volume of calls, but system was used at I/ |0th capacity
  • 10. Vote by SMS *0 Send out SMS with polling place info iii Young Democrats signed up (no, really) to be contacted with their polling place info i How do you do this in 2004 without SMSC, after experience ofTxtMob blockage?
  • 11. P2P SMS it Java Applets, loaded in-browser *0 Communicate with central server iii Carrier Iookup (85%, no access to number portability info) it Database of carrier SMS-Me email addresses (e. g., 4 I 5555 I 2 I 2@tmomaiI. com) -15 Email SMS from web browsers, ~200/minute
  • 12. Election Project Costs *0 Vo| P Message De| ivery: $I500, including I5 servers from ServerBeach and ~5 rounds of VoIP contract negotiation. ii SMS Delivery: $0
  • 13. The End? laizdl (we really hope not)
  • 14. Elsewhere Philippines Africa Spain Portland Future Projects
  • 15. Ring Tones Philippines, txtpower. org Most popular ring tone in the country Presidential corruption scandal, remixed with pop songs . Catalyst for Pro-Democracy Protests
  • 16. Frontline SMS 0 SMS Management for remote applications iii Clinic data collection systems in the developing world ii Clandestine Radio - Zimbabwe listener feedback system
  • 17. Human Rights is Rapid alert system to prevent human rights abuses in the Congo " 3,“ 6 Mobile phones with _ solar chargers ‘ ii iii Vital communications link for rural communities
  • 18. Women’s Rights Campaign for Treaty on the Rights of Women SMS petition gathering News updates to campaigners via sms Members who have no other electronic news media
  • 19. Spain *3! Terrorist attacks 3 days before elections it Government reaction of disinformation 4* Popular response with protests coordinated via SMS messages ‘ "‘§O_ V’! : ,._- 1- . r, , i"‘‘‘''‘t. .‘‘ ‘ ~ (1. ». ~ ,1‘. 3'. ‘ "‘. "“ ‘.30-"3 2 A. "-2 /4'-.7*’i‘ . ~ .1 L'(. .‘ P", ('1 pr‘, u I 5 . - : -'1.+’1‘--"". "('l- 4 n ll‘ 4"“. ,‘. I.T_:7j’? ."’-"‘f= ‘“$-L " ' 5-, ... . #: :1., :., ;1_ — . .5.. ._. .-lu' ' , ' E. I-l_'__«""—I?7'-"F —. ’-V-C"- , .f—p -1-. *, ', ,-—. *:r_‘r'— . i-. ‘_- ~; 'r U’ . q“1 7 . . - . .-i. ,~~, a.; ' ‘ , . ‘ : .«‘-'. .v-- .11 ‘- nn—. ‘.‘u "‘1". ““‘1. ii-" I. I _ . “ " d n f ‘ 111/} g or . 1-‘ ,1, J g ‘. ‘.11 - , . V ‘ —’ . l__, _ , '5'
  • 20. Portland 0 Community Te| Co I Use Sipura 3000 to provide POTS access 0 Collectivize resources, migrate toVo| P-only
  • 21. Freedom to Communicate Walled gardens are a (very real) form of censorship Beyond a “pay to play’’ TelCo system Email, the Web. Linux, Asterisk are empowering technologies Freedom to Innovate and Dissent , .,~, g.r-. ..-_-; . .1.-c-. u.-nuno-. :~w<—u. t- . . , -»- . .-_. . - - -r_-, _,v. _ _. _ _ _ I I I I ‘K ‘. . .. §~- , Q.l, l.‘II‘. i", ll. I.’l’°? ?/(/ j// ,. T T
  • 22. You! Lots of work to be done Encrypted, anonymous Voicemail Pay is terrible, hours are killer Personal reward is immense Just like Open Source