Sarah founded IF where she currently works as director. IF is a design studio that helps teams build services people trust.
The Alternet is a proposal for a telecommunications network, a public utility for the Internet age - created, controlled and owned by everyone. The Alternet gives people control of data through straightforward data licences.
There are three main components in the Alternet superfiction:
The Alternet is a long distance mesh network so the Alternet grows organically with each new router that is added. The router cases are made in any colour filament on a standard desktop 3D printer.
The cases are designed to prevent malicious nodes from being added to the network. Each router is printed with a fingerprint that is unique and verifiable against a public database of router IDs, so any compromised router is automatically removed from the network until the community are able to assess it. In addition, the routers are made with special catches that mean to adapt the router requires the printed box to be physically broken, acting as a visual warning that the router has been compromised. These security solutions are designed to make it ‘just hard enough’ to deter people from maliciously adapting the network.
2 Data Licences
Individuals can choose to share their data openly in data commons, or under certain terms through data licences. There are numerous local and international derivative markets that form as a result of quality data shared with consent.
3 Data Barometer
Similar to a traditional weather barometer, the data barometer makes an invisible material visible and actionable. Each time an individual opens their Alternet operating system they see their barometer.
The barometer is colour agnostic, it changes colour depending on the last service to request the individual’s data. Sarah built a prototype of the barometer.
The Alternet was Sarah’s MA Industrial Design major project completed in May 2014, it was widely documented in the technology press. Sarah wrote the brief for the Alternet at the Maker Faire in New York in August 2013 where she helped to build a WikiHouse with SketchUp. Many of the Sketchup employees were wearing Pebble smart watches and the Snowden revelations had just come out. There were many conversations about data and privacy shared over various dinners. A combination of all these things gave Sarah the inspiration to make her project explore privacy and the Internet.
For more on the Alternet:
- Academic dissertation, Alternet Rules
- Short presentation deck
- Chronice and forecast drawing
- Alternet network
- Alternet Cooperative, Hello World
- Hardware specification
A physical cache and short film processing and distilling research undertaken at the beginning of the Alternet project. The Cache was updated until May 2014 and so should be viewed as an artefact of its time.