A big reason the Data Roads Foundation needs to exist is that technology and enterprise need to implement and support basic human communication rights, with guidance from regular people. These rights are partially defined in the US Constitution, its First Amendment, Articles 12 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and Articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These rights include individual freedom of expression (i.e. a right to public data), a right to privacy (i.e. personal financial and health communications), and a right to anonymity as protection from reprisal (i.e. unpopular public speech and whistleblowing).
These rights are such a fundamental basis of human law and governance that they override laws meant to protect against the harms caused by malicious communications, such as terrorist networks and personal threats. Just governments realize there are better ways to protect our fellow citizens and detect harms than to trample on individual freedoms — public anonymous speech reveals wrongs so they can be corrected, and trustworthy private exchanges deepen civil relationships. Denying these rights for illusory claims of “added security” just make everyone worse off. No government or representative has any monopoly on defining “right” or “wrong” for all humans in all times, so these communication rights are necessary to discuss and refine these definitions among equal peers.
In case you can’t tell by the writing style and sparse dates of all the past blog posts here, you should know I’m a fairly reserved guy. My wife actually bought me a shirt that says “Just shy, not anti-social. (You can talk to me!)” I’m not always confident the middle part of that shirt’s declaration is completely true, so I don’t wear it very often. It is proof of my passion for human-centric Internet ownership that this blog exists at all, I’m putting my real name on it, and it has gotten this far with fiscal sponsorship and discussions with Internet-famous people.
Every well functioning non-profit needs more than one driver. In fact, before full incorporation and filing, independent 501(c)(3) organizations are each required to have a functioning Board of Directors. Fiscal sponsorees (like Data Roads Foundation) have a similar group called a Steering Committee. It’s usually also best to have a Board of Advisers, if not multiple Advisory Committees. These groups are almost always unpaid volunteers, even though they are all great leaders who would be paid a hefty sum for their services in the for-profit world.
There’s lots of advice out there about how to choose Board/Committee Members. My personal favorite advice is: advancing a shared social cause is a great excuse to contact and join your heroes. In this case, all of our official Steering Committee Meetings will be held online, so geography isn’t a choice limiter.
My list of the greatest heroes of causes related to Data Roads Foundation is below. Each nominee has a point of online reference next to their name, to show why they belong on this list:
The Data Roads Foundation Dream Team
Starting a nonprofit corporation is the most difficult type of legal incorporation you can accomplish in America today. The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has revoked 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from hundreds of thousands of charitable corporations, some within just months after they were first granted c3 status due to a computer glitch. This has devastating effects on the basic bookkeeping and survival of nonprofit activities worldwide. The IRS is widely known to be slow to grant c3 status — so slow that their computers immediately revoke it after determination letters are finally sent, because the proper Form 990 submissions are not in their system from the past 2 years (never mind it’s almost impossible to properly submit the Form 990 without first gaining nonprofit status and a corresponding Employer Identification Number)!
In other words: the IRS is so slow to acknowledge innovative nonprofit activity and its worldwide benefits that it makes new nonprofit incorporation nearly impossible, implicitly favoring for-profit activity instead.
For the reasons above, among others, the majority of responses to my early search for nonprofit startup advice can be summarized in one short emphatic phrase: “Find a fiscal sponsor!” So what the heck is that?
Vint Cerf Responds!
I always had a theory that the greatest sign of human intelligence is the ability to ask the right questions. I’ve now had that theory confirmed anecdotally by Dr. Vinton Grey “Vint” Cerf. If you don’t know who that is, please go study that name on Google right now, and finish reading this afterward.
The text below is taken directly from an email thread I exchanged with “Vint” (as he calls himself in his email salutation). I edited it down to eliminate parts of the conversation out of context with the main conversation, and to make this look more like an interview rather than an email thread. I honestly didn’t expect to be the main one talking in this interview! Really!
The Rearden Labs whitepaper on “Distributed Input Distributed Output” (DIDO) wireless technology has disappointed me in many ways.
1. First, it didn’t really talk about the technology used.
These articles are all related:
Radio frequency is just light outside of human visible range. Light does not interfere.
Why I started DataRoads.Org
As with most truly new endeavors, this one took a path that no one could predict or intend. I really thought there would already be something like this out there, somewhere. I was surprised the DataRoads.Org domain name was even available. Even after setting up this web site, I thought all that we would have to do is promote existing network standards for deployment by land and home owners, making the Data Roads Foundation more like an Auto Club and less like a civil engineering firm.
In fact, I thought I already knew of a couple Data Roads routing software candidates, via my research for the NELA-ISC.Net project. The main projects I had in mind were CUWiN and PERM, both wireless mesh projects of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Unfortunately, most of the updates and action on these projects seem to have ended in 2008, due to students graduating, and Ph.D. candidates finishing their theses. They are two great open source projects to work from, but thorough research made it obvious that I would be fairly alone in updating them to the latest hardware. It also seemed like these projects were limited to small communities in scope, because of the use of IPv4 addressing. ICANN is running out of IPv4 numbers this year, because they are insufficient for seamless global routing compared to IPv6.
Although “The ‘One True’ Fallacy” may eventually qualify for a list of logical fallacies, I don’t have the Ph.D. nor time required to present all the reasoning behind adding it. I really just want to talk about data files.
Recent developments in small renewable power sources (like solar and small wind), as well as infrastructure destruction during recent tragedies (like Hurricane Katrina), have led some brilliant minds to rethinking the way we distribute and manufacture electrical power. Many of these studies all lead to the same conclusion: data networks allow us to carry enough information about diverse power sources and uses, so that they can be efficiently coordinated at small scale, over a simple grid of neighbor-to-neighbor transmission lines. These small power grids are generally called microgrids. These “smart power” grid networks function at fairly low data bandwidth, so smart grids can be built on top of (or to extend) normal network data lines.