Wow! This is awesome! Doughnuts and warchalking!!!
"Matt,Posted by matt at 04:57 PM
I'm the CIO of the State of Utah. We network over 250 buildings for 22,000 employees. We're also in the planning phase of deploying Wi-Fi access points at places where cops hang out so they can connect to the net during their shift (they use CDPD for low bandwidth ops, but need a high bandwidth option sometimes). In this kind of environment, warchalking has some important uses beyond finding a free net. I'm hoping to use th warchalking icons to alert employees to the existence of wireless nets in conference rooms and other places.
Given all this, I have to come down in the less is more camp. The icons need to be kept simple and relatively few if we expect them to be used.
I've made references to this on my blog at www.windley.com. Thanks for the inspiration.
Phillip J. Windley, Ph.D.
Chief Information Officer
Office of the Governor, State of Utah
"...I am also waiting for someone to put up chalkmarks on my driveway - even if I did it myself, I would probably have very few people 'hanging out' as I live on rural street in suburban NYC. (However, I can just imagine coming home one day to find a stranger on my patio with his or her laptop plugged into my outdoor outlet :) ).
But here is an interesting thought. Obviously much has been said about the whole free vs. paid network scenario, but what about people who war chalk corporate nets. Take the following two situations:
- Warchalker A stumbles across an unsecured network run by XYZ company. Someone from XYZ company sees him marking up the street outside their building, and has him arrested for technological trespassing. Granted, one could argue that if the network were truly private, it would be better secured, but the company might still have a case.
-Wachalker B sees warchalker A's markings, with no indication as to whether the net is private or not. He boots up and starts using it, only to be caught by someone from XYZ. Is he liable? Maybe!
I know that your initial intent was KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) but in addition to the 'paid' network symbols of $ that people have been suggesting, we might also need a symbol to indicate that access privileges are unknown.
As for the Pay-per-use Wi-Fi chalk marks, I don't see the point. Starbucks in the US advertises their wireless connectivity like crazy. Other spots that have it would too, courtesy of Boingo, T-Mobile, Joltage, etc.
Wasn't the whole point of the Hobo Markings a cryptic sign for those in the know to get a FREE meal? Hoboes wouldn't tag a restaurant if the food was good, but you had to pay for it, would they?"
Warchalking Denmark! Ben writes:
I love this warchalking!
So I chalked up my access point last night, and took a picture of it to
document it :-)
It's located on Noeddbogade, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Busy day at work, so few updates I imagine.
My current plan is to get V1.0 up here when it's Saturday morning in the UK, so those of you in the Americas can wake up rested and ready to spend the weekend warchalking!!! Hope it's going to be nice weather for it... and send me the URLs of your pictures, dammit!!!Posted by matt at 10:12 AM
I've been following the warchalking thing for the past few days and
thought I'd toss my own commentary/chalks into the mix.
WRT "More is More":
This is looking like a combination of a hiking/skiing trail sign
and an airman's(read:pilot) nav chart. I think something like this
is going to be needed if warchalking is to become something more than
a folk script/glyph language(ala GasFoodLodging or an ISO glyphset)
I've attached a JPEG of some glyphs I cooked up myself:
-A curving/bouncing arrow to indicate an FHSS node.
-A straight arrow to indicate DSSS.
-A key to show an encrypted node
-A broken antenna (or, better yet) an eraser indicating a node that
used to be here but is now gone.
-A clock to show a time-limited node: The time alotted to each user is
indicated on the face with an hour being represented by noon.
-A triangle with an E or M in it, representing connectivity for
emergency or municipal services and an implicit request to move
on to the next node. I was shooting for something like the old "CD"
Civil Defense signs.
-An eyeball warning potential users that the owner may be logging
-A blocked arrow, indicating a blocked/unavailable service
-A passing arrow, indicating an open/available service
Now this is genius. Phil Torrone has put together a little pocketPC warwalking/warchalking combo flash app. I >>heart<< the web! Thanks Phil!Posted by matt at 09:43 AM
Dean Hall and Yoz have done a great piece of tag-team warchalk-work; writing and hosting an automatic warchalking symbol generator:Posted by matt at 09:10 AM
Tim Stiles has this to say:
"I've seen the discussions on slashdot and noted a few people's conclusion jumping that this was meant exclusively for crackers to break into insecure networks, and thus could hurt the open networks movement.Posted by matt at 11:31 PM
To help defuse that notion, spend a lot of effort on the symbology itself for different types of public usage than chalk on the sidewalk. These symbols could ultimately be as pervasive as restroom indicators on tourist maps and hotel guides.
Imagine driving down the highway and seeing a sign that indicates that the next exit leads to food, shelter, information and connectivity!
With that in mind I have put together a few alterations of your symbology with commercial signage for public spaces in mind.
Mostly, a way to incorporate places like Starbucks, who offer connectivity for a fee.
I include a $ to represent Paid Access networks, ¢ to represent a network
that would gratefully accept donations for its operation, and leaving it blank for free networks.
I also suggest some optional indicators for networks that are available only
during daylight (a sunrise icon) or nighttime (a crescent moon). Reserve the space beneath the mark for connectivity specs, so that, as protocols proliferate, a single business/location that provides several flavors of wireless can list them all while keeping the symbol vertically centered.
Reserve the space above the mark for instructions on how to join a network:
an SSID for closed or hidden networks or a contact phone number or website to register for that service. Maybe an up arrow or a triangle to indicate 'join by registering inside this building'.
Keep the sequence of the types of information presented in the same order as
most languages read: Top to bottom, left to right (joining methods, preparation details, connectivity protocols and speeds to expect) Directionality would still be needed for warchalking, but wouldn't be needed for commercial signage or map icons.
Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to seeing the impact of
warchalking on the public conciousness.
Cargo Gods, Inc."
Jason Gull writes [my emboldening]:
"First off, I have to agree with those who've already chimed in to say that "less is more." The idea of warchalking seems to have grown in large part from a desire to know (merely by sight, sans gadgets) when one is in the presence of a wifi node. Of course, actually to use the node may require more information than simply the knowledge that "THERE IS WIFI HERE." But the gadgets themselves can figure out this extra information for themselves (for example, as was pointed out by others, by using "any" SSID, or by looking up the node in a database like GAWD, or by gleaning info via wifi from the node itself). Warchalking is fascinating not only for its utility, but also (and perhaps even more so) for its simplicity, its mystery, and its aesthetics.
While it is a meme that has spread across the net faster than a Colorado fire, and bloggers and business have been evangelizing wifi at ever-increasing volume for a couple years, the ommunity of wifi-ers remains quite small -- while the number of access points may have broken a million, the number of folks who actually have used a node other than their own is a far smaller number. It just seems right to have wifi graffiti (I can't decide if the term "wifiti" is just too cute) that is simple and easy to scrawl, with as few alphanumerics as possible. Practical considerations aside (If one is using actually *chalk*, those tiny characters will be awfully hard to read) it lends the necessary degree of mystery to the emerging cult of warchalkers.
Which brings me to my nomination for the Patron Saint of Warchalkers:
Thomas Pynchon. The prescient Mr. Pynchon's "Crying of Lot 49" described similar cryptic scribbles by members of a secret underground postal system, long before the rise of the net. (Published 3 years before the traditional 1969 birthday of the net.) Alas, I'm not sure if the trystero would work for wifiti, but it certainly would add an air mystery (and literary history) to the endeavor."
I'm glad that it sounds like Jason is getting as much out of the poetic/aesthetic potential of chalking up the city as I am. That's why I'm anxious to see some pictures!!!
This from Richard Giles:
"In London today a gang war broke out over a territorial dispute. However, the territory was not physical space, but a wireless cloud of bandwidth. The dispute erupted when a Wi-fi user of a local free network connection accused another of dropping in on his wave. "Not only did this newbie drop in, he launched a p2p flood.", said one of the local Wibos.
Several laptops were broken in the fight, and one Wibo was taken to hospital for the removal of a PCMCIA Card. Residents of the casual cafe strip expressed some distress at the increase chalk markings that have appeared, and the rise of threatening looking white bespeckled males."
OK. Maybe not. But I think it's worth while setting some ground rules for the use of the Wi-fi freenets that are popping up, especially with the increased profile via warchalking.
Hey, we made it onto public radio. Here's an interview I did yesterday with John Gordon of Minnesota Public Radio; in which I explain a little my love of chalk, and verious other things we've been talking about here.
In other "warchalking meets the press" news - we made news.com (albeit with a repurposed version of the ZDnet article) and looks like we might be featured in the September issue of WiReD (ironic, no?)Posted by matt at 02:54 PM
Nick writes with historical precedent for "less is more":
"Fire marks: when fire engines were privately run by insurance companies, London buildings would have engraved marks or plaques showing who their insurer/fire engine was. Hence the Sun Life company, which used the sun;Posted by matt at 10:13 AM
or do a google for 'fire marks'
Point being that the icon is sufficient. Those who want to imbue it with
data are *doing too bloody much*. It's almost like geocaching, except that
the cache is *online*: you get the first cue, you get a connection, and you
can extrapolate and elaborate.
Bill Moller's got some great stuff here for the "less is more" camp:
"Before too much work is put into the design of the "graphic" used to depict the message, perhaps we should first decide on the features of the message:
The message itself (by message, I mean "chalk drawing") should be:
easily interpretable, language independant, etc...
As for the content of the message, let's clarify why these drawings are drawn at these locations...
1.) "to indicate that there is some form of wireless network near the message"
2.) "to indicate the required information to access that wireless network"
For scenario 1, "form of network", and "near" must be defined... "form of network" should probably remain one of the 3 types, "Open, Closed, or Encrypted (not specifically WEP, which will allow us to support future encryptions). "Near" should either be defined external to the message, as a general rule that messages should be placed within X meters/feet of a successful access; or "near" could somehow be defined in the message itself. If "near" were defined in the message itself, it could contain as much information as is required to appropriately vector the location (as in direction & distance). However, if "near" is to be defined in the message itself, how might one determine where "near" is... in what direction and how far, without actually seeing the WAP antenna. At its minimum, a message should contain at least as much information to answer scenario 1.
For scenario 2, "access information" must be defined. What actual information is required to access this WAP?
Here are some examples:
-ssid (though it can be detected by certain external means, should probably remain included to satisfy everyone)
-bandwidth (but only if required as a configuration setting to any wireless nic, for example, if every wireless nic has a "full auto" bandwidth mode like my linksys, then bandwidth needn't be a required piece of information. If however, there exist any nic's where they will not function without the appropriate setting, then it's required. I just don't know about all "nics", and since I don't know about current or future nics, I'd tend to leave it in.)
-protocol (is it 802.11b, 802.11a, etc... or something that has yet to be invented?)
-encryption ((if designated as Encrypted) is the type of encryption.
My humble recommendation:
-Form of Network:
-Open: The existing suggestion of two half circles, placed back to back.
-Closed: The existing suggestion of a normal circle.
-Encrypted: The existing suggestion of a normal circle (denoting closed), with the exception of the letter placed inside. I think it should be a letter, but the letter should coincide with the type of encryption (which would also satisfy the "encryption" information from level 2) and be uppercase. For example, if a new form of encryption comes out called XYZ encryption, the letter for that type would be collectively designated as "X"... and so the "Encrypted" "Form of Network" would be a closed circle with an "X" in it... Since currently there is only WEP, we should define "W" for WEP, and keep the circle with the "W" for WEP encrypted networks. "?" for an unknown encryption type (indicating that there is encryption, but it is unknown).
-Near: For near, I think it would be much simpler to just declare that the messages should be within 50 meters or 164 feet of a successful access. In addition, it would be hard to determine direction and distance much less "indicate" them. therefore, no additional information to the message is needed.
Thus, a Level 1 message should be a circle or half circle placed back to back, and in the case of a circle, with or without a letter indicating encryption.
Level 2:-ssid: The existing suggestion of the ssid being written in text above the level 1 message.
-bandwidth: The existing suggestion of the bandwidth being written as text below the level 1 message. However it should be a decimal, with 1 decimal place, and should be assumed to be mbps.
-protocol: The same principal as the letter for encryption... 802.11b could be "b" as Docherty suggested, 802.11a could be "a", etc... I think it should be placed to the right of the level 1 message (just an artibrary choice). The letter should be lowercase so as to be distinct in some sense from the encryption letter (even though one will be inside the circle and one will be outside).
-encryption: the uppercase letter contained within the circle. This is included as a feature of level 1.
Attached I have examples for both the level 1, and level 2 type messages.
"Swamp" writes to let us know that there is a urban sport that uses chalk symbols - need to take a look at these and see if there is any clash. Failing that, maybe we can combine warchalking and running into a new exciting form of Geekcercise:
"Thought I'd let ya'll know that you won't be the only people making chalk marks on walls and sidewalks. This might get confusing if people aren't paying attention. In cities around the world there are groups of runnersPosted by matt at 10:00 AM
called the Hash House Harriers. They set running trails using chalk and
flour that a pack of runners follow for miles until they reach a pub. London
has no less than 10 groups and some are very large. I mention this because
some of the marks being proposed are very similar to hash marks. Could
result in some confused people.
The following URL is to the Hash Marks page for the CharlotteNC Hash group.
These marks are fairly universal but London may have some local variations.
The Greater London Hash House Harriers:
World Hash Info:
As I think I've mentioned, the original spur to the idea was seeing some architectural students chalk up a life-size office plan in a London square.
Kass has sent me her photos of this event:
"14:25 Outside the Architectural Asssociation, London, in an outdoor room, invisible, but imaginable from the presence of its ground plan, drawn in chalk on the pavement, and from the presence of chairs, and of people sitting on them."Posted by matt at 09:52 AM
Goopy sent me this - good innit!
Goopy also suggests that all good movements/subcultures need mascots and t-shirts. He/She's going to work on that, but let's throw it open!!!Posted by matt at 05:28 PM
[J. Jonah Jameson value=100%]
I need pictures, dammit!!!
[/J. Jonah Jameson]
Excellente. James Docherty has registered Warchalking.org and it should now point here. Hopefully someone else has some ideas about hosting / community / sourceforge-esque software we could port this to...Posted by matt at 04:29 PM
James Docherty sends this:
"Attached is a quick diagram which having just looked at the site is now very obsolete as its too complicated - definitely would advocate a 'Less is more' approach! However, I'm still concerned that by not having any alpha-numerics it may be too reliant on accurate reproduction which given the speed/surface might be tricky. The attachment is the full info - 80% of which is optional so could look very similar to the 'kynance' original."
I think it's a little too complicated to be honest - asking someone to orient themself to understand direction of signal strength might be a bridge too far. Although the pseudo-encryption of the SSID is fun. What do you think?Posted by matt at 04:24 PM
Unless anyone else has spotted some, is this piece on ZDnet (they phoned me this morning!)
"A new fad in London is taking the Internet community by storm: chalking runes on pavements and walls to indicate the presence of a wireless networking nodePosted by matt at 04:19 PM
Seventy years ago, during the Depression in the US, hobos drew signs to indicate to each other where they could get a meal. Now, across the Atlantic in London, geeks are talking about using a similar system of chalk symbols to signal where they can get a decent wireless Internet connection."
this from Wolf, rendered in ascii, but some good ideas for inclusion by someone with a graphics package!
Posted by matt at 12:10 PM
I don't have drawing tools, so here goes, using good ole text (done on my iBook using Mail) The "arrows" '>' indicate directionality (my understanding of the term being moving an antenna to get a better signal).
Sorry for the multiple messages, but I'm suffering insomnia, and I'm quite taken by this concept of warchalking.
WEP NODE SHORTHAND:
(W>) contact info
OPEN NODE SHORTHAND:
CLOSED NODE SHORTHAND:
"PAY NODE" SHORTHAND:
(use the appropriate currency symbol for your region, of course):
"Buy something from here, use their hotspot":
For Boingo (http://www.boingo.com):
For Sputnick (http://www.sputnick.com):
Optional info, maybe be of use:
(F) = Free or Community Network
(N) = Uses NoCat (http://nocat.net)
(X) = Someone thinks there's a hotspot here, but they aren't sure of the details."
This is awesome:
"I just made a visio for the warchalk symbol. Can you add it to your site?
I know people are going to say "But, this is for chalk! and for walls!".
Well, I have a storefront window here on Folsom St in San Francisco, and
I've hung the sign up in the window with my SSID. Great Idea!
We'll probably hang a sign up at the DNA Lounge (jwz's nightclub.)
"How about putting up a very lage .pdf of the three main
symbols. The admin could post it in an office or apartment
window, and would give the wardriver / stumbler an idea of
how friendly he (or the boss) is to people borrowing
Not all admins are too keen on the idea of others on their
network. Even fewer will like the idea of being tagged
without their knowledge / consent. Give them the
opportunity to let their wishes be know."
"Somone should make a simple Perl script and PostScript
template so that one could print out nice symbols like the
ones in your warchalk pocketcard. This would be nice for
official looking signage inside buildings etc."
Bill Moller writes:
"Someone had mentioned directionality... I think with your circle that it would be very very easy, and would require 1 extra drawn line... check out the pic. warchalk 2 shows the cases where the "direction" is straight up or down... note the alternative method with the "directional" line pointing from the center, as otherwise, it's be ambiguous... 2 symbols meaning the same thing..."
Thanks Bill!Posted by matt at 09:31 AM
Jeff Howard mailed me with a wonderful long list of tweaks to my orginal design, and included a v0.9.1 pdf! [131k] Thanks Jeff!
"Wow. Really like the concept of your WarChalking language. I read somePosted by matt at 09:26 AM
of the existing feedback and downloaded the PocketCard. Here are some
suggestions for improvements.
Standardization of the ssid position between the 3 symbols may aid
learning and make it easier to modify outdated tags.
The closed node is a little generic. There's the possibility of
confusion with existing graffiti.
The information on the card is relatively simple, and if I have the
card, chance are I got it from your site, which means I have a cursory
understanding of what you're trying to do. Without that background, the
card probably doesn't make sense, and with the background, the Key
headers are unnecessary. I already know these are symbols.
I've eliminated the Key Headers and eliminated or lightened most of the
gridding, retaining just enough to prevent confusion between the 3
symbols. This allows the information to take center stage, not the grid.
Typographic hierarchy has been tweaked slightly throughout the piece to
allow for more contrast. I'd also suggest presenting the term
warchalking in camel case, to prevent the "arch" from incorrectly
standing out as a syllable to the uninitiated.
I've flipped the layout to allow the cut-out, folded card to open like a
book, so the inside can more easily be used for notes.
Since many people who will download the card won't be designers, I've
included a fold indication in the middle and adjusted the crop marks to
allow for a cleaner cut-out.
The note line indicators have been lightened so they allow just enough
definition for a straight line of text, but not so much that they
Another change that I played around with, but didn't include, was the
idea of printing the actual symbols in light grey, so individual users
could pencil in the symbols, allowing for slight regional variations."
Quite a few emails and comments suggesting that the less info on the symbols, the better - paring it back to the visual cue is just enough to warrant firing up your laptop and netstumbling.
For example, this from Drew:
"I'd like to see no alphanumeric's at all in the symbol, so anyone
walking by would just see it as a drawing that means nothing, and maybe
even see it as art. This would work for all info except displaying the
SSID, which if done, would be a very complicated symbol ... but it
probably isn't needed anyways, as most ap's will work with a blank or
ANY SSID, and most client managers will sniff the SSID anyways.
Very cool idea btw ;)
I think that if we try and create a Symbology that's flexible so people can leave as much information as they want about a node, others add to it if they want, or just leave the bare minimum to give the visual cue, then we can leave it up to people how much they want to use of the options available as it makes sense to them.
A number of folk, including Paul Bissex and Patrick Dench have mailed to suggested a glossary, or war-chalking for dummies be included on on the card. Being a wireless-dummy myself, does anyone with tech-writer know-how want to talk that on? If it's compact enough, we'll slide it into v1.0 for sure.Posted by matt at 09:02 AM
"do you know if anyone in the u.s. has started thinking about doing this?
i write for the seattle times and would like to do a story on it, if i
can find anyone in the neighborhood doing it...
Reminded through conversations today of memedebt I owe people for this idea. So here goes.
I walked from my office in Mortimer Street to Bush House (another BBC office) and came across students of the Architectural Association sitting inside a chalked-outline-plan of a small office, sat on office chairs using wifi-connected laptops (Kass! remember to email me the photos!). The chalked plan had door and window symbols and the URL of the student's website depicted. I thought it was fun, but not that useful. It just illustrated the possiblity to passers-by that outdoor wireless net access could happen, but didn't tell them how to join in.
Later that day, I had lunch with Danny, Cait and Tom. I mentioned the students and how maybe it could turn into something more widespread and useful. Danny clapped and rubbed his hands, and mentioned hobo language. It turns out that Danny and Kass had talked about hobo-language many moons ago. So i owe Kass Schmitta citation. Kass is linked with freewireless in London and worldwide...
So I think that wraps it up for the beginning stage - the idea is now out there an evolving thanks to you all. I have lots of emails and great suggestions, and I will blog them shortly. Looks like we'll get some press coverage too. More on that hopefully, tommorrow.
Now I know how it feels to be slashdotted. Erk. Anyway - the /. comments have some good points about the adverse implications of warchalking, but it seems to me some people have missed the point - that it's trying to break the cycle of having to open up your laptop, netstumbler etc, before you can find somewhere to hook up to. The visual cue should give you just enough to invest in firing up your hardware and software - no more.
Also, in response to the /. comments - I think that it has the potential to be positive in terms of the strains on sysadmins. If you see the chalk symbols appearing, then you know that you have an exposure to the public - you can deal with this how you will. Some enlightened companies might provide an open node for the public, others may choose to limit access.
And finally - a lot of discussing about the impermanence of chalk. As I think i've mentioned before, it's kind of half 'arty' affectation on my part, and half-practical. Chalk marks impermenance won't piss to many people off and [probably] won't get you arrested*. Also the impermanence means that the symbols have to be maintained, and renewed by the warchalking community - this may ensure a certain integrity to the information, I think.
Thoughts?Posted by matt at 12:08 AM
Heheh. We're number 5. on daypop too as I write.
"It'll be the new "tagging". Cops will be on the lookout for geeks with laptops and chalk instead of magic markers."Posted by matt at 12:41 PM
A couple of good suggestions already - A few people have talked about the directionality stuff. I'm thinking arrows with darts on, a la windroses?
This from Glenn:
"I love it. Now we need to add directionality so we can triangulate on the signal! Channel numbers could be good, too. And some kind of symbol for a, b, and g (g being a number of months out)."
Jim has gone back to the hobo-language orgins of the idea to evolve his own Wibo-variation symbology.
Anyway - please keep sending suggestions, pictures etc. and I'll get a rev. up for Friday I think. For me, this is the most exciting personal project I've done in ages! Thanks to all who are contributing so far - keep it coming!!!Posted by matt at 12:09 PM
Ben gets the inaugural warchalking pic - he's chalked up his kynance mews access point, and damn - it looks good even though I say so myself...
He's also written a little piece over at his O'Reilly blog, which explains why warchalking your town or city is a good idea much better than I ever could.
C'mon... send me URLs to your pics!Posted by matt at 11:57 AM
Lots of mail/IM asking why it's called "warchalking".
It's connected to a long tradition of sniffing around for the secret nervous systems of the world...Posted by matt at 11:09 AM
Okay so here is the first draft of a warchalking symbol card. Having not very much experience of war-walking or war-driving, I'm really looking to others for suggestion as what would be useful to represent in the warchalking symbology. Hopefully we can get the card to V1.0 pretty quickly and start chalking up the city!Posted by matt at 10:50 PM