After unsuccessfully bidding to run a massive Internet presence (wireless and drop-in access) at Glastonbury Festival 2005 you’d have thought we’d have been disappointed. Not to be deterred though, Bristol Wireless volunteers, supported by Psand, and part funded by the Scarman Trust, again put together another successful event, running a massive open air “Internet Cafe” and wide area wireless cloud for a week in Dorest at the Home Education Festival 2005 .
The Internet tent was a great success; the daily users were mainly kids who queued patiently and then stampeded the moment the doors opened. Main activities were Runescape, Hotmail, Yahoo, checking webstats on their websites and remarkably the local chat client (twenty kids in a room saying nothing but chatting to the person literally sat next to them through the chat window). We were open for about 5 hours a day and about 150 people a day came through. More of a cyber crèche than a café because the vast majority were kids.
Wednesday afternoon Psand delivered a satellite VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) conference to other home educators around Europe, including near-simultaneous translation with the French and German speakers and the translator at the Hes Fes. We also had network gaming sessions. Some people were playing interactively and others on their own. Interestingly we attracted a few adults too to the gaming. The suite was full and functioned really well. Due to the popularity, we set up a table for email, what’s on guides and public transport times, this helped enable a faster turnover.
At the end of the session we shut down the thin clients remotely, there was a groan of despondence from the users. It would have been good to run something 24 hours but a lot of the kids did have set bedtimes! A long enjoyable week was had by all volunteers involved. Definitely something that could be rolled out quickly again at outdoor events across Bristol or larger festivals across the South West summer weather permitting. Sadly we won’t be doing it at this years Glastonbury Festival as we’d hoped, but there will probably be plenty of Bristol Wireless volunteers in attendance possibly setting up freelance nodes across the site and definitely not trying to hack any Starbucks Wi-Fi hotspots in the vicinity