Mend The Gap (InfoTech) – Achieving Technical Self Direction (तकनीकी स्वतंत्रता की ओर)

Updated 2016-10-05 13:48 IST based on feedback from Martin DeMello.

Mojolab is working with the Mend The Gap community to deliver the MendTheGap (InfoTech) program. We believe that anyone who stays the course and covers the following subjects under the instructorship of a member of the MTG community, will acquire the ability to become technically self directed (स्वतंत्र). We request our technologist friends to help review the syllabus and encourage anyone who would like to participate to sign up at –

Mend The Gap (tech)

  • Basic Computing Mathematics
    • Basic Theoretical Concepts
      • Binary Numbers, Hexadecimal Numbers, Octal Numbers, with a basic understanding of operations
    • Practical Application
      • Changing colors in a graphical application e.g. GIMP, MSPaint
      • Changing colors on a web page, HTML5
      • Linking data to color values for data visualization (during programming)
  • Information Management
    • Basic Theoretical Concepts
      • Distinguishing between Data, Information and Knowledge.
      • Data Structures
      • Relationship between different representations of data
      • Data in motion and data at rest
    • Practical Application
      • Spreadsheets
        • Microsoft Excel
        • Google Spreadsheets
        • LibreOffice Calc
      • Data Munging Tools
        • Excel
        • Python
        • LivingData
      • Data Warehousing Tools
        • Databases
        • Google Tables
      • Data Reporting and Visualization Tools
        • Excel and LibreOffice Calc Graphs
        • Google Graphs
        • D3 (Javascript)
  • Communication
    • Basic Theoretical Concepts
      • Data communication basics
        • Concepts of Source, Destination, Media, Channel,  Message, Conversion, Signal and Noise
      • Network basics
        • OSI 7 layer stack
        • Protocol representations of the OSI stack
        • Physical media
          • Direct media, i.e. air, light
          • Media that requires an intermediate
        • Relationship of physical media to bandwidth and latency
        • Relationship of network hardware to physical media
        • Protocols
          • ARP
          • TCP/IP, UDP
          • SSL
          • FTP, HTTP, HTTPS
    • Practical Application
      • Working with different media available in day to day life
        • Telephone
        • Television
        • Radio
        • WiFi
      • Measuring how data is consumed on different media
        • Measuring bandwidth
        • Measuring latency
      • Using tools to combine different forms of media
        • Using a Raspberry Pi to connect a TV to a WiFi network
        • Using a phone to connect a computer to a WiFi network
        • Building an interactive voice response system using Asterisk
        • Tethering a phone to a PC
        • Building Mist Networks
        • Setting up a local WiFi Mesh
  • Programming
    • Basic Theoretical Concepts
      • Logical sequencingGranularity of operations, instruction sets, RISC and CISC as conceptsDifferent kinds of programs based on form and functionPopular Patterns in Programming
        • Sorting
        • Searching
        • Comparing
        • Calculating
        • Displaying

        Combining programs

    • Practical Application
      • Basic Pseudocode for theoretical platforms
      • Pseudocode for specific instruction sets
      • Compare programs in Python, Javascript, HTML and PHP
      • Implementing popular patterns with large datasets to compare efficiency
      • Building composite solutions based on available code
      • Working with stacks and platforms (LAMP, Django, WordPress)


  • Software Development
    • Basic Theoretical Concepts
      • Model/View structures
      • Parts of an application
        • Front end
        • Backend
        • Middleware
      • Kinds of Data in an application (Application data/User data dichotomy)
      • Transactions
      • ACID rules
      • Basics of Distributed Computing
        • CAP principles
    • Practical Application
      • Working with stacks and platforms (LAMP, Django, WordPress)
      • Working with stacks with components on multiple systems
      • Working with backup and replication systems
  • Information Security
    • Basic Theoretical Concepts
      • Secrecy, Privacy, Vulnerability, Threat, Trust, Law
      • Storing data securely
      • Communicating securely
      • Basics of Cryptography
      • Basics of Information Conflict and Defense
    • Practical Application
      • Identifying information we want kept secret and the reasons thereof
      • Understanding the need for privacy
      • Indentifying information vulnerabilities in day to day life
      • Identifying information threats in day to day life
      • Identifying trusted networks and practices in day to day life
      • Practical secure communication, with simulated threat response scenarios
      • Using public key encryption
      • Study of large scale information conflict examples online and analysis of efficacy thereof.
      • Securing a network
      • Peer Validated Self Assertion – Implementing human oriented securit


साइबर स्वराज – ट्राइ को जवाब देने में हमारी मदद करें!

पिछ्ले हफ़्ते हमने ट्राइ एवं टेलिकाम कम्पनियों द्वारा साइबर स्वराज पर किये जा रहे आक्रमण के सन्दर्भ में लिखा था.

विदीशा से सुर्य प्रताप सिंह चौहान नें हमें उस पोस्ट का हिन्दी अनुवाद भेजा है| कृपया इसे सभी के साथ साझा कर ट्राइ को करारा जवाब देने में इन्टरनेट समुदाय की सहायता करें! –

27 मार्च 2015 को, भारतीय दूरसंचार नियामक प्राधिकरण ओवरटॉप ( टी टी) सेवाओं के लिए नियामक ढांचाशीर्षक से एक परामर्श पत्र प्रकाशित हुआ था। ट्राई के अनुसार, “ टी टी का सबसे अच्छा ज्ञात उदाहरण हैं, स्नैपचैट, इंस्टाग्राम, किक, गूगल टॉक, हाईक, लाइन, वीचैट, टैंगो, स्काइप, वाइबर, व्हाट्सप्प, चैट ओन ईकॉमर्स साइटों (अमेज़न, फ्लिपकार्ट आदि), ओला , फेसबुक मैसेंजर, ब्लैक बेरी मैसेंजर, आईमैसेज, ऑनलाइन वीडियो गेम और फिल्मों (नेटफ्लिक्स, पैंडोरा)

जैसा की आप समझ सकते हैं, इन सेवाओं को विनियमित करना लोकप्रिय इंटरनेट के सबसे बड़े हिस्से को विनियमित करने के समान है।

ट्राई के परामर्श के लिए निम्नलिखित सवाल उठाया गया है। हम उन्हें सहर्ष अपने दोस्तों के विचारों का प्रतिनिधित्व करने वाली प्रतिक्रिया देने के लिए तैयार हैं। इसलिए हम हर किसी को आमंत्रित कर रहे हैं कि

1. यहाँ खबर पढ़ें – टी टी -CP-27032015.pdf या यहाँ MediaNama द्वारा एक सरलीकृत संस्करण पढ़ें –

2. सवाल पूछें। आप पर अर्जुन को लिख सकते हैं एवं फेसबुक या ट्विटर या किसी अन्य माध्यम द्वारा हम तक पहुँच सकते हैं। आप भी इस पोस्ट या Medianama पर टिप्पणी कर सकते हैं हम अपनी तरफ से सबसे अच्छा जवाब देने कि कोशिश करते हैं।

3.विचार विमर्श करने के बाद आप निम्नलिखित प्रश्नो पर अपनी प्रतिक्रियाएं संक्षेप में दें। हम आपकी प्रतिक्रिया साँझा करते हुए कोशिश करेंगे कि एक मुख्या प्रतिक्रिया ट्राई के पास ले जाएं। हम भी ऐसे दोस्त खोज रहे हैं जो हमें वापस प्रतिक्रिया पाने में मदद करेंगे। यह वेब्साइट जवाब भेजने में मदद कर सकती है

और ये सब हमे 25 अप्रैल से पहले ही करना है क्यूंकि उसके बाद वो हमारी प्रतिक्रिया पर ध्यान देना बंद कर देंगे!

प्रश्न 1: क्या ये ओ टी टी सेवाओं के लिए नियामक ढांचा स्थापित करने के लिए ज्यादा जल्दी है, क्यूंकि इंटरनेट पैठ अभी भी विकसित हो रहा है, एक्सेस स्पीड आमतौर पर काम ही आ रही है और उच्च गति ब्रॉडबैंड की देश में सीमित कवरेज है? या फिर, शुरुआत करनी चाहिए विनियामक ढांचे के साथ जो की भविष्य में परिवर्तन करने के लिए अनुकूलित किया जा सकता है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 2: क्या ओ टी टी उपभोगता के संचार की पेशकश के अनुप्रयोगों (निवासी या तो देश में या बाहर) के माध्यम से सेवाओं (आवाज, मैसेजिंग और वीडियो कॉल सेवाएं) को लायसेंसिंग शासन के तहत लाया जाए? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 3: क्या ओ टी टी की वृद्धि TSPs के पारंपरिक राजस्व स्ट्रीम को प्रभावित कर रही है? यदि हां, तो क्या TSPs के डाटा राजस्व में वृद्धि इस प्रभाव के लिए क्षतिपूर्ति करने के लिए पर्याप्त है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 4: क्या टी टी चलाने वालों को TSPs नेटवर्क का प्रयोग करने के लिए डेटा शुल्क से अधिक एवं अतिरिक्त भुगतान करना चाहिए ? यदि हाँ तो क्या शुल्क दर निर्धारित की जानी चाहिए? क्या इस तरह के विकल्पों में बैंडविड्थ खपत का शुल्क जोड़ा जाना चाहिए? क्या शुल्क दरों को उत्पाद/सेवा में पृथक करने का माध्यम बनाया जा सकता है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 5: क्या आप मानते हैं किन ओ टी टी चलाने वालों के विनियामक पर्यावरण में अंतर है? यदि हां, तो क्या किया जाना चाहिए इन मुद्दों का समाधान करने के लिए? प्रचिलित कानूनो एवं विनियमों को ओ टी टी चलाने वालों (जो 114 आभासी दुनिया में सञ्चालन करते हैं) के ऊपर किस प्रकार लागु किया जाये एवं अनुपालन कराया जायेइसका अर्थव्यवस्था पर क्या प्रभाव हो सकता है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 6 : संचार सेवाएं प्रदान करते हुए ओ टी टी चलाने वालों के सम्बन्ध में सुरक्षा चिंताओं को कैसे सम्भोदित किया जाना चाहिए? ओ टी टी चलाने वालों को, डेटा रिकॉर्ड बनाये रखना एवं लॉग्स आदि जैसी कौनसी सुरक्षा की स्थिति अनिवार्य की जानी चाहिए? और किस प्रकार इन परिश्थितियों का अनुपालन किया जा सकता है यदि इस प्रकार के ओत्त चलाने वालों की गतिविधियाँ देश के बाहर हैं? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 7: ओ टी टी चलाने वालों द्वारा प्रस्तुत की जाने वाली एप्लीकेशन सेवाओं की सुरक्षा, देखरेख एवं गोपनीयता उपभोगताओं के लिए किस प्रकार सुनिश्चित की जाये? वे उपभोगता हिट की सुरक्षा को कैसे सुनिश्चित करें? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 8: पद 4.23 से सम्बंधित अथवा पद 4.29 में संछिप्त सर्वोत्तम कार्य प्रणाली, भारत में ओ टी टी के लिए विनियामक ढांचे के लिए ETNO से किस प्रकार प्रस्ताव लाया जा सकता है? और क्या प्रथाएं नियामक फिएट द्वारा निषिद्ध की जानी चाहिए? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 9: भारतीय प्रसंग में नेट टतस्थता पर आपके क्या विचार हैं? पद 5.47 में विचार विमर्श किये गए विभिन्न सिद्धांतो से कैसे निपटा जा सकता है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 10: किस प्रकार के भेदभाव या यातायात प्रबंधन व्यावहारिक दृष्टिकोण के साथ मेल खाती एवं उचित है? किस कार्य की आज्ञा दी जा सकती है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 11: क्या TSPs को विभिन्न टी टी ऍप्लिकेशन्स के लिए प्रयोग होने वाली विभिन्न यातायात प्रबंधन तकनीक का प्रकाशन अनिवार्य कर देना चाहिए? क्या यह पारदर्शिता और निष्पक्ष विनियामन सुनिश्चित करने के लिए पर्याप्त परिस्थिति है?

प्रश्न 12: कैसे अनुकूल और संतुलित पर्यावरण बनाया जाये ताकि त्स्प्स नेटवर्क बुनियादी ढांचे में निवेश करने में सक्षम हो एवं कैप्स नया ढंग निकलने एवं विकसित होने में सक्षम हो सके? नेटवर्क उन्नयन लागत किसे वहां करनी चाहिए? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 13: क्या TSPs को सेवाओं के गैर दर आधारित भेदभाव को लागु करने की अनुमति देनी चाहिए? यदि हाँ तो किन हालत के तहत इस प्रकार के व्यवहार स्वीकार्य हैं? क्या प्रतिबंध, यदि कोई हो, करने की आवश्यकता है यदि इस तरह के उपायों के साथ दुर्व्यवहार रोकना हो? क्या उपाय

उपभोक्ताओं के लिए पारदर्शिता सुनिश्चित करने के लिए अपनाया जाना चाहिए? कृपया

औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 14: क्या डेटा एक्सेस एवं टी टी संचार सेवाओं की भिन्न दरों को अनुमति देने का औचित्त्य है ? यदि हाँ, तो क्या परिवर्तन वर्तमान टैरिफ एवं देश की दूरसंचार सेवाओं के लिए नियामक ढांचे में लाने की जरुरत है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 15: क्या ओ टी टी संचार सेवा चलाने वालों को दूरसंचार सेवा के बल्क उपयोगकर्ता के रूप में देखा जाना चाहिए? रूपरेखा को किसी भेदभाव को रोकने और हितधारक की रक्षा के लिए किस प्रकार संरचित किया जाना चाहिए? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी दें।

प्रश्न 16: भारत विशिष्ट टी टी एप्लीकेशन प्रोत्साहित करने के लिए क्या रूपरेखा अपनायी जानी चाहिए? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 17: यदि ओ टी टी संचार सेवा चलाने वालों को लाइसेंस धारक बनाया जाये तो उन्हें ASP वर्गीकृत किया जाये अथवा CSP? यदि ऐसा है तो क्या ढांचा होना चाहिए? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 18क्या टी टी संचार सेवाओं के लिए सदस्यता शुल्क को विनियमित करने की जरूरत है? औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 19: गैरसंचार ओ टी टी चलाने वालों के नियमन के लिए सरकार को क्या कदम उठाने चाहिए? कृपया औचित्य के साथ टिप्पणी करें।

प्रश्न 20: क्या अन्य मुद्दे हैं जिनका चर्चा किये गए विषय पर प्रभाव है?

NetNeutrality – Help us write a response to TRAI!

On 27th March 2015, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India came out with a consultation paper titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services”. According to TRAI, “The best known examples of OTT are Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Google Talk, Hike, Line, WeChat, Tango, ecommerce sites (Amazon, Flipkart etc.),Ola, Facebook messenger, Black Berry Messenger, iMessage, online video games and movies (Netflix, Pandora). ”

As you can understand, considering regulating these services is tantamount to regulating most of the popular Internet.

TRAI has raised the following questions for consultation. We would love to give them a response that represents the views of our friends. We are therefore inviting everyone to

1. Read the paper here – or a simplified version by MediaNama here –

2. Ask questions – you can write to arjun at mojolab dot org or reach us via Facebook or Twitter or any other way you like to ask questions. You can also comment on this post or Medianama’s. We will try and answer as best as we can.

3. After you’re done thinking, give us your responses on the following questions as briefly as you can. We will share your responses and try and get a representative response back to TRAI. We’re also looking to find friends who will help get responses back .

And we have to do all this before April 25th, because that’s when they stop listening!


Question 1: Is it too early to establish a regulatory framework for
OTT services, since internet penetration is still evolving, access
speeds are generally low and there is limited coverage of high-speed
broadband in the country? Or, should some beginning be made now
with a regulatory framework that could be adapted to changes in the
future? Please comment with justifications.

Question 2: Should the OTT players offering communication
services (voice, messaging and video call services) through
applications (resident either in the country or outside) be brought
under the licensing regime? Please comment with justifications.

Question 3: Is the growth of OTT impacting the traditional revenue
stream of TSPs? If so, is the increase in data revenues of the TSPs
sufficient to compensate for this impact? Please comment with

Question 4: Should the OTT players pay for use of the TSPs network
over and above data charges paid by consumers? If yes, what pricing
options can be adopted? Could such options include prices based on
bandwidth consumption? Can prices be used as a means of
product/service differentiation? Please comment with justifications.

Question 5: Do you agree that imbalances exist in the regulatory
environment in the operation of OTT players? If so, what should be
the framework to address these issues? How can the prevailing laws
and regulations be applied to OTT players (who operate in the 114
virtual world) and compliance enforced? What could be the impact
on the economy? Please comment with justifications.

Question 6: How should the security concerns be addressed with
regard to OTT players providing communication services? What
security conditions such as maintaining data records, logs etc. need
to be mandated for such OTT players? And, how can compliance
with these conditions be ensured if the applications of such OTT
players reside outside the country? Please comment with

Question 7: How should the OTT players offering app services
ensure security, safety and privacy of the consumer? How should
they ensure protection of consumer interest? Please comment with

Question 8: In what manner can the proposals for a regulatory
framework for OTTs in India draw from those of ETNO, referred to in
para 4.23 or the best practices summarised in para 4.29? And, what
practices should be proscribed by regulatory fiat? Please comment
with justifications.

Question 9: What are your views on net-neutrality in the Indian
context? How should the various principles discussed in para 5.47
be dealt with? Please comment with justifications.

Question 10: What forms of discrimination or traffic management
practices are reasonable and consistent with a pragmatic approach?
What should or can be permitted? Please comment with

Question 11: Should the TSPs be mandated to publish various traffic
management techniques used for different OTT applications? Is this
a sufficient condition to ensure transparency and a fair regulatory

Question 12: How should the conducive and balanced environment
be created such that TSPs are able to invest in network
infrastructure and CAPs are able to innovate and grow? Who should
bear the network upgradation costs? Please comment with

Question 13: Should TSPs be allowed to implement non-price based
discrimination of services? If so, under what circumstances are
such practices acceptable? What restrictions, if any, need to be
placed so that such measures are not abused? What measures
should be adopted to ensure transparency to consumers? Please
comment with justifications.

Question 14: Is there a justification for allowing differential pricing
for data access and OTT communication services? If so, what
changes need to be brought about in the present tariff and
regulatory framework for telecommunication services in the
country? Please comment with justifications.

Question 15: Should OTT communication service players be treated
as Bulk User of Telecom Services (BuTS)? How should the framework
be structured to prevent any discrimination and protect stakeholder
interest? Please comment with justification.

Question 16: What framework should be adopted to encourage Indiaspecific
OTT apps? Please comment with justifications.

Question 17: If the OTT communication service players are to be
licensed, should they be categorised as ASP or CSP? If so, what
should be the framework? Please comment with justifications.

Question 18: Is there a need to regulate subscription charges for
OTT communication services? Please comment with justifications.

Question 19: What steps should be taken by the Government for
regulation of non-communication OTT players? Please comment
with justifications.

Question 20: Are there any other issues that have a bearing on the
subject discussed?

Death of the Alpha Entrepreneur

The days of the single alpha-social entrepreneur are over. The lone wolf standing on the edge of the cliff, surveying the world below, strategizing in their lonesome mind how to solve its myriad problems- is dead.

More and more, we find collaborative teams, cofounders with complimentary skill sets starting social enterprises. The Trust Fund kid and the Gandhian activist on a hunger strike stereotype is being replaced by a gang of college friends who went on a mission trip together, colleagues who quit their corporate desk jobs together to solve a social problem they are obsessed to find a solution to.

One of them is the visionary and strategist, the other builds all the operational systems, the extrovert is in charge of communications, and the introvert deals with the lawyers and accountants. The New Age social entrepreneurs recognize that each of these talents and jobs are equally important in building a successful social enterprise.

The Generation Z Social Entrepreneur does not try to own their idea for social change, but is handing it out for free at street corners to whoever will take it, and converting the non-takers, too! And so, the fastest growing trend in social entrepreneurship is to create platforms that allow everyone to engage with social change.

Crowd-funding platforms like Global Giving, Citizen Journalism sites like Global Voices Online, global online campaigning sites like, are all enabling everyone, irrespective of how much money they have or how much time, where they are geographically based, to participate in social change. One can donate from as less as $10, or spend just 10 minutes uploading a video of a corrupt traffic police taking a bribe.

There is one organization in particular, I am a big fan of, Mojolabs, that enables rural communities to report information, news and grievances through their mobile phones, and takes action on addressing problems faced by these communities.

Mojolab develops communications systems and tools to help communities set them up to build effective communication models and networks. Simultaeoulsy they help build capacity by providing training programs and project management support to communities using these communication tools, so they can better report news from their communities.

All Mojolab research, development and testing happens at innovation centers called “Hackergrams” (“I am because I do” Village), which function out of unused spaces set up to be workspaces with reused materials.

Mojolab has found that the most effective impact generating actions are taken by people NOT engaged in full time impact generation activity. And so, Mojolab works through a large network of volunteers, whose days jobs are lawyers, accountants, NGO professionals, content writers, because they have found that these volunteers are likely to be more efficient at generating impact if its NOT their primary responsibility or source of earning. To engage the volunteers further, Mojolab provides them with non-tangible incentives, like mastery of a new skill or recognition. So, a web designer learns to file a Right to Information Act to investigate why a village doesn’t have a tubewell, an entitlement under the Indian Constitution, and in turn generates impact of bringing a tubewell to the village.

Mojolab is a tribe, functioning on a tribal economy of barter, engaged in the equal exchange of new skills and recognition for social impact. And so, rather than looking for the ‘leader’, the time has come for all of us to look for our ‘tribe’, not for someone we can follow, but for a movement we can be part of.




Top 10 Reasons why TRAI should allow telcos to charge more for OTT services like Skype

Since last November, we’ve been hearing buzzing noises about “OTT services” being “preferentially charged” by telcos. What this means in plainspeak is that if you make a call using Skype, believing that it’s “free“, you could actually end up being charged more by your telecom provider than if you had made the call by phone. This move by the telcos comes as no surprise, at least to people who understand that someone is as likely to give you free communication as they are to give you free beer or a free lunch.

From the telecom providers point of view, revenues that were earlier available through international calling are now being eaten into by services like Skype and they are simply trying their best to put up a fight.

Continue reading “Top 10 Reasons why TRAI should allow telcos to charge more for OTT services like Skype”

PeopleTech Internships

arjuntcpp11The Mojolab Foundation is very happy to announce the PeopleTech Internships in  partnership  with ह��रgram, Janastu and Servelots. These internships are intended to provide students enrolled in professional courses such as engineering and management with an opportunity to apply their learning to social change and impact challenges in the real world. We are seeking applications from interested students both in groups as well as individuals. A descriptive document is attached . Interested students may also apply by filling out the embedded form below.

People Tech Internships

Continue reading “PeopleTech Internships”

Mist Vs Cloud #1 – The DOT (Disks On a Train) Network and biz ideas for the Postal Department

I happen to live in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, which sees a lot of clouds of the rainy variety (at least in the monsoons) but is pretty much an arid desert when it comes to the clouds that rain data, i.e. cloud computing services like Gmail, Facebook and Youtube.

Except for oasis like pockets, most of Bhopal has at best “2G” connectivity which, for those who were born into and live in 4G heaven, feels like an old 56k modem from the users standpoint.


While this may seem counter-intuitive to metro Indians many of whom are now getting ready to be born into 4G+ heaven, people who live in Bhopal and cities /towns/villages smaller than Bhopal would probably agree vehemently … except that this page would take too long to load where they are, and lets face it, there are other things on the Internet that are far more interesting to wait for. They probably wouldn’t have the patience to read it. Besides, even if they did get online long enough to browse, Gmail and other such “cloud” services would be chewing away the bandwidth trying to load the latest “smooth transition” or “tabbed inbox” or “predictive text” and they would quickly close all other windows/tabs on the browser to “make room on the pipe for Google”.

As a result of this scenario, most of us at Mojolab have very little faith in the “cloud”(s). Information still remains as important as water to all of us, so we’ve come up with our own alternative to the clouds to serve our hydration needs. We call it “The Mist”.

Unlike cloud computing, mist computing uses local resources, like your buddy’s cellphone data card and your neighbors’ wireless connection, and doesn’t spread farther than the local resources allow, e.g. the network stops when the first neighbor refuses to share his wifi.

While clouds are up there, the mist is down here. When you need to get soaked, you take a walk into the mist, you don’t do a raindance waiting for the clouds to dribble.

What this looks like in less poetic and more technical terms is that instead of relying on a distant “World Wide Web” you start seeking to fulfill your information needs with local peer to peer sharing before blindly downloading or uploading the data to the Internet over a third party connection.

The most unholy waste of bandwidth I have ever seen (and indulged in) is two people in the same room, with two different mobile Internet connections watching the same video on their different devices….in the process paying the same provider twice for the same data. It would be far more efficient to download the video once and then share it with everyone in the room via bluetooth/wifi.

So we don’t stream any more…we “edge cache” and share locally. We don’t share URLs, we transfer files. When we have people in the same location, we use a projector ad a round table instead of a shared document. And we’re trying to build more and more tools that can help us get more productive with our local peers instead of trying to do more and more data intensive things remotely, simply because “that’s where the server is”.

We’re also taking a fresh look at long distance data transfer. The other day I found myself with some idle time on the Internet and did this little thought experiment around what it takes to send 2TB (2 terrabytes, which is roughly 1500 1 GB movie files or 175,000 pictures in PNG format taken from a 28 megapixel camera), from Bhopal to Delhi in the shortest possible time for the lowest price possible.

If I use a Tata Docomo 3G connection (which is the prevalent and most functional network in the Bhopal Area, as verified by OpenSignalMap above), I am paying roughly INR 450 for 3.5GB @ 7.2Mbps (expected 3G speed), according to the image below from


The best speed I have ever seen on a 3G dongle in Bhopal is 2Mbps, but we’ll be generous and say that there are spots where it may be as much as 4Mbps.

Now say I put myself on the Bhopal Railway Station with a solar powered laptop past its amortization period (so effectively free from power and equipment costs) and my friend with a similar setup at New Delhi Railway Station.

I connect my 2TB hard drive to my computer, fire up a peer to peer file sharing client, hook up to my buddy and start transmitting.

By the time the transfer completes, we would have spent about 2TB/4Mbps= ~48 days (each, i.e. a total of 96 man days) parked at a railway station, barring connection drops, bad weather and suspicious cops.

INR 450 for 3.5 GB comes to roughly 128 rupees per GB. So over our 48 day stay, we would also have spent 2048 X 128 = 262,144 (!!!) rupees on 3G connectivity.


By contrast, if my friend hopped on that train (lets say a Shatabdi, one of the higher priced, fast commute trains between New Delhi and Bhopal that leaves Delhi in the morning and returns there by late evening), he would be in Bhopal some time in the afternoon the same day (in air conditioned comfort with a desk, a chair and a shared power socket with food included, so he isn’t adding any more expenses over the ticket either), could copy the 2TB to his computer while the train gets cleaned at Bhopal station (since I am waiting there, remember) and be back in Delhi before midnight (or shortly after if its foggy).

Lets say it gets really foggy and he gets back a full 24 hours later, which is about 1.5 times the expected time.

I would have saved my entire 24 hours, but lets discount that too. Lets say I really want to make sure the data gets across so I keep sitting at the station temple praying for my friends safe return home and we spend a total of 24 hours each, just to be generous give the telcos a nice handicap.

The Shatabdi ticket is about INR 1000 (1037 to be exact, see image below).


So for the cost of 2000 rupees and one day, we’ve gotten across 2TB from Bhopal to New Delhi. This is less than 1/48th of the time and less than 1/125th the money it would take to do it online.

Not to mention that my friend could have carried back a full rucksack of 1TB hard drives, since he’s allowed to bring 40 kilos of luggage on board the train…just to make the proportions even more ridiculous. And if we needed to do this regularly, we could probably save on the tickets by befriending the Shatabdi attendants, who are remarkably friendlier than the folks who answer customer care at my telco.

Whats even more interesting is that even if the provider was to make the cost of the data transfer nil, the time involved would still make the trip worthwhile. In fact to provide an “at par” solution, the telco would have to give me a 194 Mbps connection for less than 1 rupee per GB. With telcos already crying foul about dropping ARPUs and razor thin margins, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

And the clincher is that these economies exist between any two points at least in India, since it’s always possible to get someone from point A to point B within the country (and to a lot of places outside as well) for less than 250,000 rupees and 48 days.

All it takes is getting past the illusion that the cloud is “free and instant”. It’s neither.

So I find myself constantly amazed that people in India (including myself) remain willing to pay over a hundred rupees a GB for data. India is truly a magical and hypnotic land! But I suppose in a world where people starve despite humanity having known how to store food since before the time of the Pharaohs, it’s a little petulant to cry about data being too expensive. 

Cynicism aside, what I would love to see is the Indian Postal System pick this idea up and start transporting hard drives instead of letters. With the routes and supply chains already in place they could literally auction off the “bandwidth”, which would be best used by commercial interests with reliable large data transfer needs.

This in turn would leave the airwaves free for the rest of us, reduce the need for high power, cancer causing, bird disturbing cellphones and towers and more than enough data coming and going to keep everyone well watered…without the need for a cloud. However, the Indian Postal Service seems to have quit without a fight in the face of the e(G)mail, so we may end up having to reinvent the wheel on this one!