NPDD/Baobáxia/OTF 2014

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Basic information

Your name: Vincenzo Tozzi Your email: Give your project a name: Baobáxia (BBX)

More about you

What is your current or most recent position and employer or research institution?

Coordinator of R&D group of Mocambos Network and Vice-President of Casa de Cultura Tainã

What are (or were) you doing there and what was your role?

I work with Mocambos Network since around 9 years and I'm coordinating NPDD, that's Mocambos Digital Research and Development Group. Mocambos is a grassroots network of mainly quilombos communities, but also indigenous aldeias and urban cultural communities. I'm vicepresident of Casa de Cultura Tainã, who started Mocambos Network and that is nationally and internationally known for its commitment to afrobrazilian culture and free digital culture.

Have you ever applied to OTF in the past?


Please list any urls including personal website, github, facebook, twitter, etc. that you might want us to see.:

NPDD wiki home:

Our main project Baobáxia, wiki home:áxia

Direct access to one of running Baobáxia node, called "mucua" (in alpha, sometimes need a to refresh/ctrl+r): Github Baobáxia code repository:

Your project

What is your idea? Describe it:

The ideia starts form the Route of Baobabs. One of Mocambos network founder, TC, started planting Baobabs in quilombos and Mocambos communities as a symbol of a freed land/place. Baobabs in Africa are very important for spiritual and also nutritional/practical reasons. Since very old time, and because Baobabs are estimated to live more than 5000 thousand years, they are very important to communities and become the places where people meets and share most important events and memory. Baobáxia stands for Galaxy of Baobabs and is the digital dimension we are creating to renew Baobab tradition, "technology" and culture. So BBX is a network of local, eventually connected, nodes that we call Mucuas, that is a name for Baobab fruit (we don't need more server and "slavery ideology"). Mucuas can work disconnected and synchronize eventually by internet or with other media or devices (it's a paradigm similar to delay tolerant networks). First meta, already in alpha, is to use as a decentralized digital archive but we think at Baobáxia as a communication paradigm and architecture, so we are thinking on a new field for R&D based on these concepts. How long have you been thinking of working on this idea? What made you first think about it? Sincerely, I believe I'm in this idea since very long long time. Since 3 years that I'm working on it full time. The first time I started to think on this paradigm was 2008, looking at a point to point radio communication system I saw in some quilombos communities in Amazonia. They had a quite complex infrastructure and logistic to achieve a basic voice communication, based on retransmission of messages from communities to communities until get to the nearest city and back.

Who are your collaborators, if any, on this idea and how are they involved?

We are working on Baobáxia, since the beginning, together with some communities of Mocambos Network. There are people more involved in software part of the project, like Fernão and Nara, Baobáxia UI developers, and people, like TC, Angel, Guilherme, who are working on coordinating activities with local communities and working on video and multimedia production. We have done a lot of workshops, labs, and discussion with a lot of communities and there are already at least around 20 communities who's interested in learning more, developing and work with BBX. That's already around 10% of Mocambos Network communities and interests is growing fast.

Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? Why are you the right person to work on it? :

In 1998, when I was 17 years old, I made, as the final school work, a study called Human-E-CO-Science, joking on words human, eco, science and consciousness. It was a wide discussion about relation between technology and nature. Than I studied Computer Science, I left for years because i moved to Brazil and started working in 2005 with Mocambos Network. In 2012 I rejoined and finished the course and my thesis was titled "Eventually connected federated networks. An architecture and prototype for Mocambos Network". Baobáxia software development started with that work , and so these are some of Baobáxia roots that connects to me.

What's new about what you're thinking? What alternatives do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet (or they don't know about it)? :

I'm/we are thinking something new and something old. We are looking at new technologies giving again value to traditional and common human practices of living, communicating and sharing information and things. We believe that communication can regain it's human values with a more decentralized and locally driven technology and infrastructure. We started thinking and discussing cloudy centralized Internet paradigm that maybe is not so healty and sustainable because it's too time and resource consuming. We need more disconnected time again to focus on our real human needs. This is not about running away from Internet.. we know how important can be. Most Mocambos communities have very bad or no internet connection, and we worked a lot to get access to internet. Since around 2004 we got connection for around a hundred communities. But we also see how strong is the power of internet media products and "social networks" that is even more critical in traditional communities like quilombos and indigenous aldeia. These communities are seeding all their traditional cultural, memories, and histories in a digital land that doesn't belong to them (cloud) and doesn't respect at all their cultural identities. This is not only related to traditional communities like in Mocambos network. We believe Internet should be a network of networks build from grassroots communities and technologically empowered people. Now people who get connected is to much connected and who's is not connected it's to much isolated. We are trying our way.. eventually connected. What significant challenges do you expect to encounter while perusing this idea? Being a different paradigm and contexts we'll need to work on solutions that involve knowledge in all areas. The ideia is based on a network of mucuas, that are, in main part autonomous local networks, so the main challenge is teaching and empowering more people from these communities. There are few developers committed to work on pattern that go out of the main stream, like creating technologies with/for offline people (we should say "differently on-line" people). That's a problem.

What do you understand about your idea that others doing similar things just don't get?

Quilombolas and indigenous always reference the fight for land, as the First fight. So, we look at local node/mucuas as our fight for a "digital land". Being a Mucua your territory you can really work, experiment, and take the fruits of what are "planting on it". And you can still work if there is no internet. The Internet model of centralized services means few people can really administrate these "lands" for the simple reason that they should have a high level of trust and tech knowledge to give access to a centralized system that for example, if stops, stops for everybody. We strongly believe that having each communities it's own mucua, digital land, to experiment and work they can grow faster and involve and teach more people.

How far along are you? Do you have a beta or draft yet? If not, when will you? Have you already gone public? Are people talking about it? If so, who? Are people using it? If so, tell us how and how many? :

There are already 14 mucuas, 6 are moveable and 8 are in communities. We started "planting" the first mucuas, with a alpha version of Baobáxia, around 2 months ago and we already have more than 200 hundreds videos and media contents published with already 37 real users. If you have an online demo or viewable work, what's the url?

How will you do it? Describe how:

We are already working on Baobáxia with a partnership with Bank of Brazil Foundation that ended this month, dez/2014. We need to grant more support to the development group and prepare more people to manage local mucuas. We are discussing partnership with some universities and R&D centers to grant access to more people. Our main development group is based near Brasilia and we work together with other people by net but frequently organizing real meeting. We have contact and we work with free software gurus of different countries, like Joey Hess dev of git-annex that is supporting our work. Next step is getting a first stable release, debugging, packaging and optimizing the code. Next step is also empowering our network infrastructure.

When would you ideally start and why? : We are already at work! How long will it take? (1-12 months):


If we fund you, will you be committing to working exclusively on this idea for this duration?


Would other funders be interested in supporting it? Could this idea make money? If so, how much and how? (We realize you can't know precisely, but give your best estimate.):

We are already working on creating local communities R&D groups in cooperation with Universities and Institutions. A lot of schools are also interested in the technology and digital archive contents also. We can provide this solution to public telecenters, schools and associations. Being a communication paradigm that doesn't need connection infrastructure can be potentially revolutionary in a lot of South American and African countries creating a lot of new work possibilities.

Who will it help? Describe them:

Mocambos Network is connecting around 200 hundred communities all over Brazil and with growing connections with South America, Africa and Europe. They are mainly afrodescendants communities, quilombos, indigenous, traditional communities, urban cultural groups and associations.. You can see a map here (user and pass: livre): How will you get them to know about it? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won't be attractive or important to people until it has a lot of people involved, how will you overcome that? We are already working together. Why do they need it? Baobáxia is already used for strategic communication and digital memory preservation for ethnic groups like quilombolas and indigenous communities that are facing violence and increasing attacks to their right to exist in their land. Brazil is a "growing country" where agrobusiness and mineral exploitation model is threatening traditional communities each day more. Baobáxia will help to preserve immaterial heritage and communities memory directly in the communities and spreading to the world. This media contents will also a base for community pedagogy that can be provided with different local means (radio, tv, wifi..) Mucuas can prevent sharing outside the communities sensitive contents, but at the same time can help sistematically reporting of violence situations.

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