January 26th, 2004



(from BoingBoing) This NYT story reports that rural Cambodians are using motorcycle-courier wi-fi drive-by systems to traverse the "first mile" to the internet -- the motorcyclists coast by rural schools, pick up and drop off email, and cruise on to the next, all without stopping and five days a week.

The pony express lives.
  • Current Mood

politics, meet geeks. Geeks, meet politics.

I'm a board member at a local public access studio. We're having an interesting problem, from both a socio-political point of view and a geeky epiphenomena point of view.

Like most public access studios, it has a wide variety of producers, who are often at loggerheads. Let's call one of them C for Christian, another P for pornographer. Now C and C's friends prefer that P (and P's friends, like G for Gay) not have any shows at all. (For the record, I don't have any love for P or P's work.)

The studio, of course, thinks that C, P, and G should all be able to have shows if they can put them together, and makes no preference among them. Unfortunately for P, the studio is restricted by the city to allow "adult" shows on the air only after 1:00a.m. This wouldn't seem like a big deal, but the studio schedules shows by lottery -- producers fill out what times they want their show to be on, and rank their choices, and draw lots. High-scorers get their top choices.

C., however, chooses a ranking-order in such a way as to maximize C's chances that C's show will end up scheduled in one of the few available post-1am hours, scuttling P's chances to have a show.

My reaction to this is that I think that we should revise the lottery so that those shows which are restricted by a studio decision to certain hours (e.g., "adult" shows to after 1am, live shows to when the doors are open) get a better chance at those time-slots than those shows which could be broadcast at times outside of those restrictions.

So I have two questions -- one for the politicos, and one for the geeks:

For the politicos: am I crazy to think that what C is doing is obnoxious? I'd like to prioritize a diversity of programming, and to discourage producers from strategically trying to exclude each other. I'd like to design the lottery/schedule-selection so that it encourages co-operative scheduling, rather than exclusionary timeschedule coups-d'etat. Is this an outrageously radical position? Am I disrespecting C's rights, in a way, by discounting C's belief that P.'s show should not be on the air?

For the geeks: assuming that my political decision to make these changes is correct, is there an easy way to make a new and yet comprehensible lottery so that it is difficult for C's kind of blackout competitive scheduling is impossible, or at least penalized? Note that we cannot count on C to be honest about why C's scheduling always seems to wind up at the same time as those shows that C disapproves of.

I've been kicking around an idea of insisting on bloc-preferences, in contiguous regions across days or along a given day. Also, I've been considering some kind of instant-runoff with tie-breaking, but that's a reverse strategy from the usual use of instant-runoffs.

Suggestions? Thanks!
  • Current Mood