Across the border from Chinese-occupied Tibet, the tech infrastructure in this high mountain village is a mess.Link to article, "Wireless Binds Tibetan Exiles", and Link to an extensive photo gallery: "Dharamsala Dreamin'."
But a former Silicon Valley dot-commer and members of the underground security group Cult of the Dead Cow are working with local Tibetan exiles to change that using recycled hardware, solar power, open-source software and nerd ingenuity.
The Dharamsala Wireless Mesh is an example of "light infrastructure," a concept gaining popularity among tech developers: decentralized, ad hoc networks that can deliver essential services faster than conventional means.
Attempts to deploy similar community wireless networks in America have been blocked repeatedly by national phone carriers. It takes a big company like Google to build citywide Wi-Fi networks (the company launched its first in Mountain View, California, this week).
So sustainable network builders are going where they're welcome -- in this case, a rural village 7,000 feet up in the Himalayas.
(...) Some of the technical challenges [network project founder Yahel Ben-David faces] are unique. This may be one of the only networks in the world where antennas must be monkey-proofed.
"Monkeys are everywhere," says Ben-David. "Often, you'll see a huge, gorilla-sized monkey hang on to an antenna, swing from it, eat it, try to break it. We lost a lot of cables that way, but now we use very strong equipment so that even monkeys can't break it."
Update: Here's a discussion about this article on Slashdot: Link.
- Part 1: The Gaddi of Dharamsala
- Part 2: Connecting Tibet's Exile Community via the Web
- Part 3: A Wireless Network for 'Little Lhasa'
- Part 4: Tradition vs. Change in 'Lhasa Vegas'
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.