Edge 2 Edge networking

Phil Hughes on Bob Frankson, applied in Estelí, Nicaragua:

  In social-political terms, it means looking for a local solution and then growing that solution to connect to other resources. It seems like something that could be done, would be good for Nicaragua/Nicaraguan communities and would even appeal to some organizations looking to make grants. Much like the grants for the sewer and water projects in Estelí, this is infrastructure. Up-front costs are much larger than operating costs so it doesn’t build that dependency cycle.
  Am I crazy?


Phil is in a great position to build infrastructure from the edge in. Also to see The Problem of centralization for the purpose only of creating artificial scarcities and charging for them. If we’re going to start working around connectivity compromised by value-subtracting business models, towns like Phil’s are good places to start. (Also to start leading incumbent carriers toward a future where they are part of a new ecosystem that’s much larger than the one they’ll need to quit trying to control.)

By the way, Phil is the friend who started (and for most of its history published) and hired me on there in the late ’90s. It was Phil who showed me (without meaning to, which might be the best way) that the software industry was slowly but surely turning in to the construction industry.

And that’s exacty the model we need to follow as we buid this thing back out, from the edge in.


  1. Mike Warot’s avatar

    The software industry isn’t quite ready to model the construction industry. When is the last time your house needed automatic updates? Did a new set of (unlocked) French Windows appear when this happened?

    Once the end nodes are stable enough, and we’re not trying to build with a bundle of wet leaves… then the metaphor can be more appropriately chosen.

    I think we’re building way too many things on sand instead of rock. Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic, but things like infrastructure should be able to run unattended for years on end, only requiring planned maintenance if it turns out to be unavoidable.

    Most water systems in the US are 100 or so years old… baring hardware failures, do you think ANY program put together can last 100 hours against a determined set of hackers looking to exploit it?

    So, is it me, or is it not quite ready for prime time yet?


  2. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    Bob Frankston is a perfect example of why a time machine wouldn’t help us understand the future. Bob is living anywhere from five to ten years in the future, and the things that he has to say to us are practically incomprehensible because we lack the context to understand them.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Mike, I did say “slowly”.

    And Russ, you’re right about Bob, except that his prophesies have come true before. Sometimes the time machine helps.

  4. Keith Dick’s avatar

    Mike: I wonder how secure the average water system is against deliberate attempts to subvert it? It might be that nobody (so far) has been interested in attacking the water systems in the U.S. Certainly we’ve seen that attacks on infrastructure in Iraq have caused a lot of problems there.

    I’m not saying I know that many are vulnerable. I simply don’t know, but wonder whether your comparison is a useful one.

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