HAL boxes are small NSLU network storage devices that we install locally at certain of our Wi-Fi hotspots and then remotely fill with music and movies by local creators. Because the box is directly on the local area network, the content can be streamed at HDTV resolution without stalls or buffering and without bandwidth charges. Plus, because we use Zeroconf, the user’s media player discovers the content automatically. Besides promoting serendipitous discovery, the user gets to interact with the content using a familiar interface that is specifically designed for rich media. We hope to make HAL servers a cultural meeting spot—an easy way for passers-by to engage with works by artists from that community.
I wrote a short article for a local art project by Île Sans Fils, now zap.coop/, with the help of the group’s members. The project did not last, but Île Sans Fils went on to become a pillar of the open internet access movement. It was thrilling to be present at that moment.