For Lefties too Stubborn to Quit
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Cedar Lounge >>
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting
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Irish Left Review >>
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NAMA Wine Lake >>
A shot at bias in the media
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IMC Centre At Athens ESF 06: "'Problems?' He asks, 'We Found Chaos!"
The Techies do rule the world!!
Flavia, Photographer from Italy
The Media Centre at the Athens ESF is a bustling hive of activity enabling activists, professional media and anyone who wishes to communicate the ESF to a wider world to do so. So how does the Media Centre work? Everyone volunteers their experience and expertise to help get things off the ground and running smoothly. Two groups involved in setting up and running the support for the Media Centre are Hellug and AWMN. Each was approached a month before the forum to provide the hardware and internet access through their network.
So why did they get involved with the ESF?
'It's fun, it's what we do, we learn something and it's a challenge!' says Mick Flemm (not his real name!).'It's a huge challenge, we've had up to 120 laptops, the media centre computers connected onto a backup system we weren't sure would work!' Cirrus, who finshed his service in the Greek army just 3 months ago, describes how it's the biggest single project they've been involved with. When asked about problems all eyes go up to heaven with lots of gesticulating and pooh pooh sounds. 'Problems?' he asks, 'we found chaos! We had to cable the entire network and phone lines and only got access to the main server two days ago!' Mick Flemm adds ' we didn't know if the bandwidth and access points we set up would have enough capacity for everyone, if we had enough coverage. Now it's great, OTE has set up their network and we can now do video streaming which we weren't able to do before'.
Initial reports coming in from the ESF in Athens, courtesy of Indymedia Irelands own Paula Geraghty, include photo essays here, here and here; and a description of the media centre.
Richard, a retired school teacher originally from Connecticut described some of Hel.LU.G.'s imput.
They basically provided the computers, repaired them and set them up at the Media Centre at the Old Airport where the ESF is based. Hel.L.U.G. are involved in a project to distribute older computors, after they've maintained them, to groups and organisations like schools. It was set up in Greece in 1998 (www.hellug.gr)as a forum for Linux user sand developers providing a minority past time with support both moral and technical. DJ Art is one of longest member of the Greek Linux community, having joined when he was a mere 17 year old. 'Linux is an operating system for computors enabling
hardware and software to interact,' he says.'It is free and works on the older computors which were made available for the ESF. Otherwise it would have cost a small fortune to have set up
The Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network were responsible for the internet access at the forum. OTE, the public telecom service, were to provide the main broadband service which wasn't up and running until 11am of the second day. Fortunately, they had developed a plan B, relying on their own network which they've been developing for over the past four years.
What is AWMN?
Richard describes it as the 'spirit of citizen band radio taken to the Wifi age!'. Initially it was about people who weren't computer experts such as a banker and a jeweler who wanted to have better and accessible communications. Greece has a very limited broadband access with the maximum download speed of 1Mb with less upload speed and it's expensive according to members of AWMN. Members have access to a free internet service, which is so good, even the National Telecommunications Regulator (EETT) approves it !
The major success of the group has been to set up a wireless network all over Athens. After four years of hardwork the network covers the greater area of Athens, a population of more than 5 million They have done this by setting up station to station (peer to peer) network of dishes on roof tops, all over Athens each with a clear line of sight of the next one, creating a wireless network, bypassing the need for landline based networks.
Nikos describes the lack of access to the internet as the main motivator in turning this vision of accessibility a reality.' We wanted a network that would be fast, and free, wireless and available to all'. Nikos, who studies Physics in Iraklion, Crete, says that, 'we could sell what we have and make money, but we share open source software, information, nodes (dishes) and experiences. Many companies have copied our techniques and created their own networks'. To get involved with AWMN is simple. They have a public website and all you have to do is register (www.awmn.net). There are almost 3,000 forum members, with over 300 backbone nodes (www.wind.awmn.net), ie people who share dishes on rooftops, which, creates the infrastructure of the network. They have no idea how many users there are as they don't count or filter them.
When I ask what else they've learnt.?............' No one respects techies!' They reply.
And they all laugh.