Decentralisation has been at the core of the work that Janastu is doing. While the term “decentralisation” has various meanings, in the context of our work, we tend to define it as ideating, curating, and creating at a local scale. Our work with the local craft community has been to revive generational skills of craft using local materials and tools. The community radio community has been working to enable and curate local voices to express themselves and be heard by the community itself. The technology community innovated around making software available and accessible to members of the community without the need to have internet access. We have heard various stories of happiness, generational oral skills, poems from kids, and so on. The intersection of local/generational skills, community participation, and technology (software, hardware, and networks) has paved the way for this year’s AntHillHacks 2023–24.
We have always dreamed of being technologically decentralized. We use LibreMesh and OpenWrt in our routers, making the network decentralized. But the local software programs that were being developed or used did not. Our technology stack has always been built for a centralized internet. Email link-based verification has always been the core of community login. A centralized server running services was always needed for everything, not allowing communities to innovate on technology but always being around technology. We always required a strong security system to cover the server for many of the tools to work (eg: XMPP, Mastodon, etc.). While too many issues pointed out here may sound like the bare minimum, we want to come back and stress the fact that the communities we work with are not digitally literate enough to own and operate an email account login link or do not always have a network to receive an SMS OTP. These choices in technology have inherently excluded communities that are not digitally literate. While Janastu and communities alike have been working tirelessly on fixing many of these problems, we have at best only been able to localize the problem. This includes sitting with the users and teaching them how to use, what to click, or even many times saying, “We will do it for you when you need it”.
We believe this needs to change. For this year’s AntHillHacks, we are partnering with TechSoup to explore FileCoin as a core system that can power some of the tools we are building for our needs and other community needs we work with. FileCoin provides a protocol for us to build on community storage and offer an incentive. This forms the core system for self-reliance in a community for something like the exchange of skills for the exchange of goods, the Internet, or just documenting knowledge for community growth and use.
Anthill Hacks will collaborate with TechSoup’s Accelerating Makers project to host a decentralized web hackathon and create a demonstration project showing how decentralized web technologies like Filecoin and IPFS can increase digital resilience in local communities in India and beyond. We aim to redo https://anthill.janastu.org/walkthrough.html using FileCoin and IPFS, among other projects.
TechSoup, as a community, stepped up to enable us to explore Filecoin. As a part of AntHillHacks 2023–24, we are officially launching a Hackathon on Filecoin on December 30 and 31 (Saturday and Sunday). Please check out https://anthillhacks.in to register and participate. Please do expect a follow-up blog on some of the ideas we want to work on, but please don’t let it hold you back.
There are other things brewing:
Tree Climbing event at the temple near by - 24-25 Dec 2023 by Laxmesh, Sheshadri and friends
Reimagining Equality, Socially-Consciousness in Audiovisual Media-making in Our Languages - led by Subhasish
Situating Nomadic Pastoralists in today’s Technology – A Tech-based Scalable Solution to Improve Penning Economy and Linking Farmers and Shepherds in the Shortest Time Possible – led by Kanna
Also, anthillhacks.in (https://anthillhacks.in/) Anthillhacks has been held since 2015. It was for 9 days during the Summer of 2015. Then every year for a few days. In 2023 it’s planned for 2 weeks! The idea of Anthillhacks is to encourage people to meet at smaller hills nearby and include it in the program (the place matters). And the idea of Anthillhacks is to be inclusive of City folks, of village folks, of women and non-binary, of educated and the low-literate to get to participate and be together.