Monday, June 7, 2010

ACM File-sharing System ... Design Document? + Tech and Other Concerns

At the recent JAG conference in New Brunswick,
I was pleased to hear a workshop about
the ACM Video Sharing Server.

The audio of this workshop is the first item on this page:
http://changetheframe.com/audio/

In some ways, this was the highlight of the conference for me,
because some of my colleagues at the NY-ACM chapter
(inc. Maryann, our Chair) have been discussing
why this system is so urgent for the Alliance in 100 different ways...

e.g, CAP Act advocacy videos, PEG advocacy videos,
ACM "Public Access" educational videos which can also have
a fundraising and outreach function...

We need all this stuff, folks!!!
And we need it now!
As was pointed out in another thread...
I would say most people in America
have no idea what public access IS!
And we wonder why it's hard getting support for CAP?

We are in a crisis in case you haven't noticed...
We have a Public Relations and Educational problem
which we must solve BEFORE we can save PEG!

I have been trying to get a hold of the design documents
but so far have not been successful. If anyone can
send me links (or the documents), I would be grateful.

While I liked much of what I heard at the workshop,
including the use of open-source tools,
I did starting having a few concerns.

One fellow (Nick?? I lost your email...) spoke up
and asked some simple questions, like

"What are the design goals"?

and this question was not well addressed.

What's so very bad about this?
Because from a Project Management perspective,
knowing what it is that you are doing
is the first thing you want to pin down
BEFORE you start implementing a solution!

Here are some other disturbing things I heard:
  • Emphasis on monetization
    ("How can we make money with this?")

  • Vendor-dependent solutions

  • Centralized control centers

  • Bandwidth bottlenecks

  • Financial and other Barriers to Participation
I have 20 years of relevant experience,
yet, when I asked if I could be part of the design team,
I was met with,

"Harumph! Who the hell are YOU?
YOU don't even have a SERVER yet!!!"

I won't say by whom, but I was shocked and saddened
by this attitude.

HEY! Are we all in PUBLIC ACCESS here? OR WHAT?

So with all due respect to all the brilliant people
who have put efforts in to this project so far,
I want to throw this out before Pittsburgh,
some notes about
what design goals this system should embody,
and some features I would like to see:

  1. Vendor interoperability / Vendor independence

    We should not be tied to any one vendor, but, all vendors should
    "play nice together" and integrate into this system seamlessly.

  2. Distributed control / 100% Open Architecture

    • No vendor, no person, no agency
      not even the ACM itself should control the system.
      (These were the design goals of the internet itself)

    • Without a central server, the bandwidth and hosting costs are distributed.
      No need to monitize the system!
      Money is a barrier to participation.
      (server costs and pay for uploads/downloads)

  3. A variety of data transports should be supported,
    including rich support for Peer-to-peer

    • Note Well: Bittorrent (peer-to-peer protocol)
      is the most effecient way to share big files (e.g. video),
      PERIOD!   (Speak up now if you dispute this fact)

    • So, this system should use it!

      Yes, there may be some admin problems to solve,
      and FTP/HTTP should be there as a backup,
      but FTP/HTTP should NOT be the default protocol,
      as it is extremely inefficient and creates a major
      date bottleneck and point of failure.

  4. No need to own a $8k server to participate
    No need to pay to upload files.
    No need to pay
    to download files.

  5. This project should be in the spirit of public access TV --
    A Free-Culture vibe, encouraging maximum participation by all!!

OK, thanks for listening!
BH

--
William Huston            WilliamAHuston@gmail.com
Binghamton NY             Phone: 607-321-7846

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1 comment:

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