I would like my twitter client to come with twitter speed numbers. I would like to know how fast my Timeline is moving in terms of tweets per hour. How fast my @mentions are moving. So then people would recommend say to get an ex number of people you follow until you reach a certain Twitter speed and then stop because otherwise you can’t possibly keep up. @mentions feed speeds would also be a measure of relevance of whatever it is you are tweeting.

The Bikera is my idea for a better bicycle sharing scheme than those that exist nowadays in many cities. It is inspired on Fon the company I founded and run and now the largest WiFi network in the world. A WiFi network offered by the people.

Here’s the plan:

You start in a town that has a bicycle culture and a low crime rate. You “seed” the town with $100 bicycles.  These bicycles, as opposed to all the other bike sharing schemes, have no electronics and no stations, they stand on their own.  They are called bikeras.  The electronics on the bikeras will come from people’s smartphones which in a year will be as all phones are now.   Bikera will also be an app.

You seed the town  with one bicycle per every 200 inhabitants.  When you start you do a blog/FB/twitter PR campaign.  Seeding means that on day one you leave all bikes standing for anyone to take.  One per block.  More where you expect more people. A town of 100,000 people would have 5000 bicycles and cost half a million to get started.  5000 bicycles is a LOT of bicycles, they would be seen everywhere.

You get a corporate sponsor and brand the bikes with this corporation’s colors and logos to help cover the start up costs. Barclays did this in London for example.

All bikes come with a simple combination lock and an engraved license plate or number. All the electronics for the bikera scheme are in smartphones that people take with them.  Not on the bike.  THIS IS CRUCIAL and very different to all bicycle sharing schemes.

Two kinds of people use the system:  bikeros or aliens.  Bikeros are the ones who have contributed $100 to the system and bought a bike to add to the system.  Aliens are anyone else.  Aliens pay $2 per bike ride.  Bikeros ride for free. The incentive to contribute a bike are to be nice but also to save $2 per ride.

In order to ride a bikera you need to open your app in your smartphone and this app will GPS your location to the bikera system.  You wil then enter the engraved number you see on the bike and immediately receive a combination back.  Then you will leave your app on as you move around with the bikera.  The app will track your movements like say Endomondo does when you work out, or Runkeeper. When you are done you will leave the bike, sign off and the system will know where the bike is.  Everyone else who opens the app will find it.

Why is this system better than Velolib in Paris or Deusche Bahn in Germany?

-rides are free for as long as you want, not for half an hour and then pay a fortune.

-you don’t need to find a parking spot for your bike which is the biggest inconvenience for Velolib that forces you to ride from station to station.

-bikes are much cheaper, they don’t have electronics as the Deuscthe Bahn system for example and don’t have costly stations with electronics as in Velolib.

-bikes are so cheap that people will not steal them, what for, there is always another one, still there are now bikes in the market for $100.  Bikera could find suppliers of decent bikes for that amount.

-you can pay students to repair bikes when reported broken by users.  They can find them with the same iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows, Blackberry app.

-you don’t need a license to start a system like this, or if you do it should be very simple.

-because people buy the bikes you don’t need much capital.

-because towns can self organize and start their own systems, it is self franchising.

-the bikera company’s only income would be the $2 per bike ride from the Aliens or non Bikera contributors.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09
Image by New Media Days via Flickr

I am in the process of downloading a file that contains all the unedited cables that Wikileaks has obtained.  You can do the same by downloading this link using a program like Vuze. This is a 1.4GB file so it may take a while.  As far as I know it is not illegal to download it as it is not copyright material.  In any case it is probably not illegal because you cannot read whatever it is that you are downloaded as it is encrypted.  What this file is is a Poison Pill.  Assange goes, this file is open for humanity to see.

I am downloading this file for two reasons.  One is because I believe that if it was so easy for Wikileaks to obtain this information whoever our enemies are probably have it as well.  Secondly because while I had mixed feelings on what Julian Assange was doing, I am so disgusted about how Western democracies are reacting towards a person who has not been formally accused of any crime that I think it’s time to stand by Wikileaks to defend freedom of the press.

Lately I have a strong feeling that the Chinese must be rejoicing at all the “retroactive law invention” that is going on in the West to put one man in jail.  Because if Assange had been a Chinese citizen promoting transparency in China we would be lining up to give him the Nobel Prize.  We can’t demand transparency from others and censorship for ourselves.

If the US government did not want its secrets known, all they had to do was to encrypt these secrets as Wikileak’s Assange is doing with this file. As CNN argues it comes with an encryption that not one of all the encryption crackers in the world can figure out.  Think about it, we will all have this file but we will not be able to read it.  Can’t the US government do the same if something is really a secret? How can real secrets be distributed among over a million of people with easy access to matters way beyond their jurisdiction and unencrypted?   From now on, if you want a secret, encrypt it, and make it a crime to break the encryption.

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When I read articles like this one on CNN arguing how Wikileaks is providing potential target lists to terrorists I worry.  Probably so do you.  But think about this.  It was so easy for all this information to leak out that we should all wonder how safe it was to begin with.  If Wikileaks, without any special spying skills, just being there to collect info, could get all this sensitive data, why couldn’t have Al Qaeda or any other of our enemies have done or do the same thing?  While we may object to the style of Wikileaks I have no doubt that thanks to Wikileaks, USA will completely rebuild the way it handles sensitive data and as a result the safety of the system will have been improved.  Wikileaks has the effect on security that hackers have on software development.  Wikileaks found simple bugs everywhere.  It is up to the people whose job is to make us safer to fix it.  Yes, granted, Wikileaks could have given all this info to the State Department and not publish it.  But sometimes it takes a shock like this for things to really change and what should be transparent be transparent and what should be classified be classified.

Good news continue at Fon. Today we’re announcing a new collaboration with Skype, one of our first investors. At Fon, like at many other companies, we use Skype to talk to each other. I use it with my family all the time and I really think it’s a must-have application, so I’m really happy to announce we’re working with Skype to provide Fon WiFi via Skype Access.

During the initial phase of this project, we are offering Skype Access at 300.000 hotspots around the world (except Japan and UK). Anyone with a Skype account will be able to connect to a Fon Spot using Skype credit. This is a great way to forget about inserting credit card details every time you want to connect. For ‘Aliens’, connecting to the hotpots with Skype Access is super convenient. Skype will search for Fon Spots, and when a Fon Spot is in range it will show a pop up window with the price per minute to connect with Skype credit. One click, you are connected, that easy.

With this collaboration we take another step to make it easier for everyone to access the Fon WiFi network, which continues to be the biggest in the world with more than 3 million hotspots worldwide. The Skype Access collaboration is beneficial for our entire Fonero community. ‘Bills’ get to keep 50% of the revenues from their Fon Spots and ‘aliens’ get a quick and efficient way to pay for and connect to Fon WiFi. Ultimately, what we want is for Skype users to join the Fon community. All they need to do is buy a Fonera SIMPL (39€/$49) and start roaming the world for free!

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