In collaboration with the Papa Legaba camp, TIER (@kheimerl and @shaddih and working with Tapan Parikh and Coye Cheshire) are going to be testing some of our ideas about community owned and operated networks (see our writeup on small-scale GSM networks for developing regions here) at Burning Man this late August. Specifically, we're asking the following question:
"How can the infrastructure help support communities?"
Burning Man is an enormous event, comprised of tens of thousands of individuals across a wide geographical area. These people are from many diverse social groups, and it's often difficult to bridge these communities. Our answer is a service we will be running on the free Papa Legeba network. Basically, it connects two different burners to each other via a voice call. They're free to talk, communicate, and develop relationships... or immediately move onto another waiting person. Communications are only between burners at the event, no connections will be made to external networks or peoples. We want you to make friends and find people you never would if you were limited to communicating with just those physically near you. The specifics of how and why we connect two individuals (two people who have called in) is the secret sauce... but it should be interesting.
To participate, just bring a quad-band GSM phone to Burning Man. Then connect to the free local Papa Legeba network (NOT ANY PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT ONES!). You'll get a text once the system is up and running telling you what phone number to call into.
As the event approaches, we're looking for feedback from burners, and have opened comments for this post in particular. Is this system interesting? What concerns do you have? Any suggestions for what would be most useful for you?