ChokePoint Project selected as 2011 winner of [the next idea] of Prix Ars Electronica

 

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Very happy to announce that the Choke Point Project has been selected as 2011 winner of [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant as part of the Prix Ars Electronica 2011.

Here’s what the Ars Electronica post says about the project:

“As an upshot of recent revolts in the Arab world, the Choke Point Project raises the question of who actually exercises control over the internet. The WWW is generally perceived as a decentralized medium, and many people hold the opinion that it can be used as a means of  communication beyond the reach of power relationships and unimpeded by authoritarian structures. Recent events, however, reveal that this view doesn’t correspond to reality at all. Rather, individual politicians are able to cut off internet access on the part of an entire nation. The declared aim of this project initiated by the P2P Foundation is to locate nodes of the internet and to demonstrate how simple it is to prevent large segments of the populace from getting online. But this project is much more than the visualization of a “map of the Web”; it also collects strategies and opportunities to evade just such weak spots in order to free th internet from the clutches of power structures and turn over control to the individual.”

The prize consists of a 3 month residency in the Ars Electronica Center and a cash stipend in the amount of €7,500.

In the meantime James & yours truly are have been putting together the team, looking for funding and learning tons of stuff. We'll be having the first meeting of most of the team on June 16th in Amsterdam, just realised it's 25 years since I last went there!

ChokePoint Project – towards a distributed internet infrastructure

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Right now, I'm mainly spending my time on doing stuff for the P2P Foundation – one of the main things being coordinating the ChokePoint Project along with James Burke.

Here's the video presentation of the project, along with the transcription.

 

Chokepoint project introduction from Choke Point Project on Vimeo.

 

Video transcription:


On Janurary 27th, 2011, the order was given to “turn off” the Internet in Egypt, limiting communications and voiding commerce conducted online. Egyptian Internet services resumed on February 2nd. Fastforward just a few weeks later, this time Libya commences its disconnect February 18th, with a blackout occurring March 4th.

Shutting down the Internet in two countries sent shock-waves across the world. We also  heard people like American Senator Liberman asking for access to a similar kill switch. These actions force us all to ask ‘Who owns The Internet?” and what are the implications of the said controls over connectivity and scenarios for their use?

If you believe the Internet is not something that can or should be soley controlled by politicians or people inside the higher echelons of nation states, resulting in situations like Egypt and Libya, we’d love to tell you about what we are building.

The Choke Point Project addresses the events of recent months with the clear aim of mapping nodes of Internet connectivity and who maintains their control and what this may mean. We believe there is the need for a more decentralized Internet beyond the complete control of nation states and corporate influence.

So let me tell you a little bit about us? The Choke Point Project team are members of the Peer to Peer Foundation, and some of our friends, comprised of web researchers, software developers and data visualization experts.

So some of the projects aims are:

to gather data from across the web to show control points,

and clearly explain the complex issues involved including the history of who owns the Internet, the current legal situation, and where are identified choke points, and possible strategies for decentralization, reasons for and against kill switches.

The Choke Point Project site will function as a living record of Internet ownership and control, documenting the key areas from domain name registration to traffic gates

We will use the site to:

– create an interactive data visualization to identify choke points, showing vulnerabilities

– document the related open projects and point to articles with analysis and strategy

– release datasets and tools used to track down Internet choke points.