INFORMATION RENAISSANCE
GUIDING PRINCIPLES
HOT
WHAT
WHY
HOW
WHO

Scalability

Information Renaissance designs, builds and operates networks with scalable architectures. In this context "architecture" refers to sets of telecommunications facilities and services and the interconnections among these services. A scalable architecture is one that can accommodate large-scale growth without needing to rebuild from scratch.

A scalable network has several intrinsic features. One is its distributed nature: resources such as electronic mail servers can be distributed across the network and placed where users of the network can most easily access them. School-based servers provide an important example of this concept. These devices concentrate resources at local sites without requiring those sites to take care of system maintenance; this can be carried out from a central site via the network. The same type of server, positioned at neighborhood network hubs, can be an efficient mechanism for community access.

Another important feature is interoperability, which guarantees that different computers can talk to each other over the wide area network. The signaling protocols which define the Internet assure interoperability of all computers connected to the Internet.

Sustainability

In each of Info Ren's networking projects, mechanisms are sought to provide the infrastructure necessary for ongoing operation and support. At each site served by these projects, there are efforts to develop enough local expertise to sustain the activity, including training new users, maintenance of user accounts and elementary trouble-shooting. This takes care of 90%-95% of the problems that come up in a typical operation.

Democracy

Info Ren projects seek to democratize the activities surrounding networking, first by involving a very broad set of people in the use of networking technology, and then by teaching members of all participating groups what they need to know to maintain the necessary infrastructure. Info Ren seeks to involve the public in a range of networking activities, including education, employment and easy access to governmental services.

In the course of our projects, a number of people have emerged with the technical skills necessary to implement regional computer networks. Leaders of these projects now serve as leaders in other networking efforts. And from among the thousands of individuals introduced to networking technology through these projects many others will appear who are capable of leading new networking projects and developing new network applications.

It is important to note that the themes os scalability, sustainability and democracy are hallmarks of the public Internet as it exists today. The projects described in the History section predate the remarkable growth of the Internet, and it is fair to say that the Pittsburgh projects which led to the founding of Info Ren have helped to shape the Internet, particularly as it applies to education and community development. Info Ren will seek to maintain the creative thrust of this work.

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