Wednesday, October 06, 2004

RHZ Amateur Radio Net

The previous mention of the angry article talked about the Radio Rhizome Project in Los Angeles. I was curious what this was and decided to spend some time looking into it. I am fascinated by what they are doing. I always enjoy the idea of spectrum as a public asset or a regulated part of the 'commons'. What Radio Rhizome is doing is dancing on the edges of broadcast law and using the power of the Internet to create a radio station that strictly speaking is a collection of broadcast nodes with synchronized programming.

Any of us can get an AM transmitter and can broadcast a limited signal on a chunk of spectrum, provided the range is limited and provided that nobody else is licensed to broadcast at that frequency. Essentially I can broadcast from a small base to my neighborhood from a very low power station. But what happens when a bunch of people are connected to the Internet, and have transmitters and are all simultaneously broadcasting the same feed provided by one source? Well you all of a sudden have taken back a part of the airwaves and formed your own public access / community radio.

I think this is an interesting concept, which probably has a lot of the same challenges as public access /free wifi. Can you get enough consistent coverage to actually create a consistent signal that is worth hearing? Maybe in dense areas like New York. I am thinking San Diego, probably not.

It will be interesting to see how citizens view spectrum over time. I find it interesting that so much has been allocated to corporations in a variety of frequencies that can't be used by us, but that isn't being utilized by commercial ventures either. Kind of an application of the commons for a purpose without any real good coming back to the community. Sort of like domain name squatting.....

Anyways, this from a physical perspective, and Bit Torrent and podcasting are all fascinating and innovative takes on non - center of the network distribution that have interesting possibilities.

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