On Wed, 2003-11-05 at 17:14, Robert Miller wrote:

> And, what if all the content on this server were remotely refreshed
> nightly via satellite broadcast with any updates so that those content
> resources were always current as of 2:00 AM that day and were available
> to students, faculty, and administration at high-speed using a simple,
> reliable wireless campus network?
> Yes, this is possible and it is being done today! And, it operated on a
> financially self-sustaining basis by the University or a local community
> business person who is charged with providing this reliable service.

This is very interesting to me but raises some questions related to
practical use and implementation. It basically seems that 'offline'
content is being maintained in a somewhat current state by periodically
syncing with upstream information. You mention satellite broadcasts,
which imply that the information stream is one way. This makes sense to
me, because if it was two way, why does one need to mirror content
locally, except to save bandwidth (still worth doing!)

Another question is how well this fits in with the current state of
information out there. It appears that more and more, information is
tied towards its source, in the sense that information is not being
served raw but through an application, and interacting with an
application means bi-directional information flow. Packaging it properly
will avoid the problem and enable it to be used offline. IMHO, more
efficient use of offline capability is needed to help information
penetrate into places where this solution may be used.

How much does satellite unidirectional broadcast cost versus
bidirectional communication (factor in hardware cost as well as
operational cost) ?

Practically, I think this sort of approach needs to be combined with a
hard look at equipping people with PCs on a large enough scale to really
reap benefits. Community telecentres (basically shared access) is useful
as a means of alleviating this problem but too much effort seems to be
focused on community telecentres instead of on how to put more PCs or
lower cost computing/communication devices into the hands of people.

And that brings yet another problem, that of what sort of software or
interfaces are going to enable these people to take advantage of
information, bringing yet another problem into being, of whether the
sort of information that they need is really out there. This is somewhat
assumed for granted ...

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