Timeline

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Overview

This project began in February of 2017 as part of Dhruv's thesis project for ITP. Initially it was built on Monroe Street between Bedford and Nostrand, however it was taken down later that year in order to be updated. The current installation is occurring in Bushwick.

Monroe Street Othernet ( 02/2017 - 09/2017 )

The early prototype of the Othernet created a network territory of 2 square blocks on Monroe Street in Bed Stuy. This was built as a thesis project for Dhruv Mehrotra. The project was built in partnership with the Monroe 3 block association but was discontinued due to lack of usage. The Initial othernet software was a search engine and webpage builder that allowed neighbors to create webpages and upload pdfs to the othernet. It was written in Ruby on Rails; see code here: version one. Domains were resolved by forwarding all traffic to the server and matching urls to data saved in the database. This software is no longer supported and is no longer a part of the Othernet software suite.

Early Othernet infrastructure were Ubiquiti NSM5 nano-stations running OpenWRT. This allowed all Othernet Infrastructure with the same SSID to automatically mesh to extend the network.

Bushwick Othernet ( current )

Eyebeam ( 10/2017 - current )

In October Dhruv Mehrotra began a residency at Eyebeam and began a rebuild of the Othernet. After the repeal of Net Neutrality there was a lot of excitement for community networks. Many were popping up around the city, but none addressed the two main concerns of the Othernet:

1. The consolidation of attention to a few large technology companies, and what that means for representation on the internet. 2. How do you get people to use these community networks? Many networks exist in the United States, but the central problem here seems to be one of usage.

Partnership with POWRPLNT

In February POWRPLNT, through Salome Asega, agreed to partner with Othernet to be the central node of the network. The decision was made to work with POWRPLNT because they are a trusted community organization that works closely with young people to provide accessibility to technology.

Mozilla ( 02/2018 - current )

In February Othernet was awarded an honorary 10,000 from Mozilla to continue development. Andy Gimma and Dhruv Mehrotra pitched to Mozilla a strategy of community engagement for community networks. The central goals of the grant were to develop a community network as a neighborhood resource. Half of the awarded 10k was allotted to funding the Othernet Engineers program, while the half went to build infrastructure and outreach.

New Infrastructure

The Mozilla funding has enabled Othernet to purchase better more robust equipment for our central node. You can read all about it here: Othernet Equipment.

HotGlue / Redirection Server

Instead of using the Monroe Street Othenet's Ruby on Rails web page builder we switched over to Danja Vasiliev's excellent HotGlue. It was important to us the the Othernet domain space continued to function so we put together a redirection server in front of Hot Glue. Our thinking here is that this network needs to be a place for the neighborhood to be creative. The more that we can facilitate creativity and the arts on this network, the more of a culture will develop around it. Once this occurs the network will have real usage.

Litelist / StreetPost

LiteList/StreetPost came out of the Mozilla funding. This craigslist-like application allows neighbors to post events, community information, and jobs to the Othernet. Each post is given its own unique domain structure. Othernet Engineers have worked collaboratively to build and implement a terms of service and safe content moderation. This logic behind this application is that we wanted to build software that would be "neighborhood first". If you are selling something, offer it to your neighbors first. If you have a job, offer it to your neighbors. This platform also facilitates in community discussions and events.

Othernet Engineers

The Othernet Engineers program pays high schoolers and young adults to collaborate on building an Othernet for their community. Along with teaching job training skills like network administration and web programming, the program is designed to get young adults thinking about designing safe and consentful online spaces. Our current engineers are: Andy Gimma, Dhruv Mehrotra, Edwin Reed-Sanchez, Shennelle Bingham, Danasia Robinson, Jose Díaz, and Devon Robinson. Also see Content moderation.

Installation of the First Node

Read more about the installation of the central node here.