Content Selection

How will Outernet select which news and information content to deliver universally? And will users have the ability to request content or make suggestions for local feeds?

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There will be some core content provided by trusted content partners. Although no agreements have yet been made, courseware from Khan Academy and Coursera would be a good match. But the pre-selected content will make up only a small percentage of all content available. The vast majority of the stream will be selected by citizens from all over the world. We currently envision a system that allows content-requests through SMS, phone calls, feature phone apps, and the website. Although people who are accessing the website may have alternatives to Outernet’s content stream, they can make recommendations for what others in the world might find interesting and important.

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So, no HTTP protocol, just user generated content on a local file system? Sounds extensive, if so.

I’m happy to hear that Khan Academy is on the list. Their intro to programming course is really easy to follow. Working my way through it right now.

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I hope that open course material will receive the attention it needs. Free educational material is very important.

Will the following open educational source be on the outernet?

Including content at ?

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What jurisdiction will decide what information gets shared over outernet?

Kahn academy and Wikipedia-type content will be valuable, but by 2015 most likely be available via cell phones. With several billion users (assuming that’s the goal, since billions live without free press etc), and it the most value would probably be added by sharing sensitive and controversial information. Thoughts?

And could an oppressive regime (or others) find a rather easy way technically of scrambling the frequency that the satellites use and therefore block the information again?

That’s exactly the type of content Outernet should be broadcasting. I’ve made a note to contact them in the coming weeks. Thanks for the suggestion.

I’m not convinced at all that high-bandwidth content, like videos from Khan Academy, will be available on cellphones all over the world–at affordable cost–by 2015. One thing to keep in mind is that we want to provide a service for those who would otherwise not be able to afford access to this kind of content.

In all honesty, I have no idea what the process will be for sharing sensitive information, such as items in WikiLeaks. I believe there is a need for transparency all over the world–I just don’t know what the process to broadcast that kind of content will look like. If you have thoughts, please do share them.

I’m sure that the signals could be scrambled–it’s just a matter of physics and money–but since all of the satellites are in constant motion (unlike geostationary satellites), I don’t think it will be a particularly easy task.

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Rather than high bandwidth content, like Kahn Academy, over outernet; perhaps simple web pages advertising the existance and availability of such resources, and alternative methods of access to them when available. Think along the lines of how gnu/linux distros were offered 15 years ago. Web pages existed that advertised CD-ROM copying services that would mail you a CD set for a fee. Never underestimate the bandwidth of a motorcycle courior barreling down a dirt path with a satchel full of USB drives.

The higher bandwidth content could always be distributed over GSO satellites. I had not mentioned this earlier, but we’ve been talking with the two large operators for a couple months. Hopefully by next month we’ll be broadcasting some web content over existing satellite infrastructure.

Other than Khan Academy and other online courses, I highly recommend collaboration with TED and Wikipedia. I believe they will be excited by this project!

Ida B. Wells Have you ever heard of her? Probably not, but she is a more imporant historical figure than Rosa Parks.

Content: This is a very important question. Wikipedia has the “open” and self editing philosophy, but in practice, it has become a select few of technically adept men who do most of the editing. I really really hope, the outernet is not just a repeat of the wikipedia social culture. It will prevent a lot of content being sent by and to the exact people who are left out of the top competitor editing crowd in the first place. For instance, the nurses, who are not particularly able to spend time learning the language for wiki posting, nor to keep editing day after day (who does?)… had a posting on wikipedia, and it was about one of their organizations… a special organization it turns out, but that’s another matter. The entry was whittled to a stub, over a period of weeks, and criticized in various ways, by people who knew nothing of the organization, which happens to be hugely important and central to future health of all of us. The nurses know nothing about having to keep on editing, keep on defending. They were baffled. Because it was a huge thing for a nurse to figure out wikipedia to make an entry. Now their entry is no longer in the wiki, and the nurses just have no way to fight this. They gave up. Its just one example. But their organization page is still on the internet.

The wiki edit/content philosophy seems to be you must defend your content until the end of your day if you want it to stay there. Some kinds of information are well formed, it would be a disservice to the new way of building content… Most women have given up editing on wikipedia. Sorry. Someone had to say it. But the underrepresented are exactly the folks who we want to include now, right? Had you ever heard of Ida B. Wells? Honestly, I had not, until Google put her name on their home page today. She was an amazing human being, of great historical import. So much will be left out if we don’t create a real equitable editing process.

You make a good point. Although we will definitely be including sources such as Wikipedia in the general multicast service, we are also working on a way for adding specific units of content–like a blog post template. We hope to eventually integrate a type of formatting that is compatible with messaging services, like WhatsApp. This would enable people without traditional broadband internet access to uplink pieces of information to Outernet.