A cyberpunk federation of linked houses

T17 residence

Mikael June 14, 2017 13:49

Summer plans for

The second node of the system has started to come alive in D27. Since the purpose of the system is to link houses, it only really exists once there is a linked pair, and that's the first milestone.

Previously the system was based on Debian, a classic GNU/Linux-based operating system, or rather the "Raspbian" version that's the default on Raspberry Pi computers. Now we have decided to instead base the system on NixOS, which will make it easier to develop, upgrade, and spread the system.

The system will be portable and run on both ARM-based Raspberry Pi and x86-based Linux computers. The current D27 installation is an old desktop computer, whereas the T17 installation is a Raspberry Pi.

We have also started developing the next generation user interface with the Electron framework, which will let us use all the cross-platform functionality of the Chromium browser, for example video capturing.

During the summer we hope to:

  1. Get the system fully operational as a chat link between T17 and D27.
  2. Finish the RFID integration and connect the D27 door mechanisms into the networked system.
  3. Begin to develop some community house organizational tools, for example budgeting and accounting?
Applause from Jāzeps and Agnese 1 comments
Mikael April 24, 2017 20:35

T17 house terminal goes postdigital

From The Postdigital Manifesto:

"Cultural phenomena exist in perpetual circulation between digital and analog, between universal access and temporary localisation. This is the point of departure of the postdigital perspective."

The T17 house terminal is an experiment that involves one analog place and one digital computer. It is intentionally "retro" just by remaining mostly offline, usable only on the spot by residents and visitors.

Jāzeps scanning his card

The terminal has, however, inspired ideas that go in the direction of networking -- a local form of networking, where cooperating houses and other objects link up in a decentralized way (kind of like a "Local Area Network").

Today we did two fun things.

First we recycled some digital data into analog. We simply rendered the history of the terminal chat log, from October 2016 to today, into a PDF and had it printed in a booklet at our good friends CopyPro.

T17 house log book

The experience of reading this book is quite interesting. And it was useful to have an analog backup solution as the computer itself had to be disconnected for a while, to proceed with the next step...

We got ahold of some blank RFID cards and an RFID reader that we hooked up to the terminal computer. With a bit of programming (Python and Emacs Lisp) our identities as residents became linked up with our house's digital life.

T17 house terminal RFID scanner

Each resident has been given their own identity card. For now the cards are used only for writing messages in the chat. Press Enter, bleep your card, and type!

Applause from Jāzeps, Antonina, and Agnese 2 comments
Mikael April 21, 2017 12:04

The T17 house terminal

Our house has a house computer. It's a wallet-size gizmo ("Raspberry Pi") with a cheap monitor, all hanging on the wall of the common room. And it boots directly into Linux running a text editor from the 1970s (Emacs) which we've modified into a house logbook/chat.

Nobody ever checks their Facebook on this computer. Partly because it's too slow, but mostly because you need to learn some complicated keyboard commands to get out of the house chat system, and no one bothers. So it's just a black terminal where residents and guests can type messages, old school IRC style.

This all gives our house computer a nicely disconnected feeling -- kind of cyberpunk. But not really. The real cyberpunk is yet to come.

Applause from Jāzeps