Mitra Ardron

Mitra Ardron

Technology, Decentralization, International Development

San Francisco, USA & Byron Bay, Australia

mitra@mitra.biz

+1(510)423-1767

skype: mitra_earth

This site is still under construction, my old site is here, and see www.naturalinnovation.org.



Technology for Good

My life's main thread is using technology for "good". How can we make technology our servant rather than our master.

I'm a do-er rather than an advocate. I work at the creative intersection between technical and business/organizational aspects, making things happen that can lead us to a better planet. There are three interwoven threads that recur in my career, the internet, developing countries, and clean technologies (especially renewable energy).

Decentralizing the Web

I'm leading the decentralized web project at the Internet Archive. We are working with some of the other current and former internet pioneers, to advance a vision of decentralized web, where power lies with the users - both writers and readers. Imagine a world where storing in "the cloud" really meant the cloud - all the computers on the net - rather than server farms under centralized control.

This isn't Blockchain, but its built on many of the same underlying tools that power Bitcoin and its succcessors such as strong cryptography and decentralized file stores or databases.

Library

We are building a set of libraries to make it as easy to build for a decentralized web as for the existing centralized one. Its still at the early stages but supports multiple transport layers (such as IPFS) and simplifies application building. Get our working draft and code at Google Doc or see the examples....


Support

We are developing approaches to allow the Internet Archive to better support a decentralized web and to make some of the Archives collections accessible via distributed tools.

Our first example allows academic documents to be searched and retrieved via IPFS. Much more to come ...


In the past

I've been involved in pioneering the web and its use for good, for quite a while, and in its decentralization, a few examples:

  • Started, in 1985, GreenNet, an ISP (Internet Service Provider), supporting the non profit and activist sector, its still going.
  • Co-founded, in 1989, the APC (Association for Progressive Communications), which pioneered the internet into the global South, and today is the main international Civil Society group for civil rights on the internet, especially in less developed countries.
  • Active in early Internet standards through IETF, where I co-authored, or was an active contributor to, several standards including: HTTP, the URL, URN, VRML etc
  • Co-authored US Patent # 09883064 on swarming and using hashes as file identifiers in Peer-to-Peer, which is the core of the techniques used by Bittorrent, IPFS, and others for downloading parts of files from other participating computers.
  • Technical lead for the connection between AOL and the Internet. AOL was uncontrolled users, in a highly controlled environment, while the Internet of the time was largely academics but large (uncontrolled) quantities of information (in Gopher and WAIS - this was pre-Web). Bringing the two together was the first mass use of the internet.
  • Led the networking team that built Worlds Chat, the first shared 3D environment on the internet.

Technology for Sustainability & International Development

I'm passionate about developing and using technology to sustainably and scalably solve the problems of poverty and international development at scale. I believe there are many challenges in development that are amenable to solutions that are at least in part technical, and where often a solution exists in the West but for a number of systemic reasons we haven't found a solution that works for all the world's population. I've started several Social Ventures and NGO's in this theme, and since the sale of Lumeter am consulting to a number of interesting technology based projects.

Lumeter Networks - PAYG Technology leader Founder 2012 - 2017 ...
CEO, CTO and Founder 2012 - June 2017

We developed the leading PAYG technology, including hardware solutions embedded in the products of multiple manufacturers; and a full-stack dashboard enabling solar companies to deliver solutions to 40,000+ people. We had sales in 69 countries by the time we sold the company to Mobisol in 2017. www.lumeter.net


Mentoring

I'm active as a mentor, through a number of organizations including: Mentor Capital Network where I've been a board member, judge, and entrant in their competition; I've also been a judge on ASME & Engineering for Change (E4C)'s iShow competition & for CleanTech Open Global. I'm always interested in how we can improve the support that can be brought to technology based social entrepreneurs.


Ecosystem for technology and development

In particular there are very few sources of funding for technical solutions, which fall between the cracks: Too big for Angels; not enough return for VC's, too risky for Philanthropists; and too early for Impact funds.

I believe the best approach may be too work with foundations to align some portion of their funding to higher risk developments that have a chance of solving a problem they, or their grantees, care about. I'm also interested in talking with people who may have other approaches to this problem.


In the past ...

Using technology for good has been a thread throughout my career. Some highlights include:

  • Starting a solar company in Byron Bay, Australia that, through a rigorous analysis of the broken model of the time, cut the installed cost by 30% enabling thousands of home owners to access previously inaccessable renewable energy. This region is still the leader for residential solar.
  • Mentoring the developers, and raising the capital for, the first viable aquaponics system. Urban Ecological Systems / Blue Smart Farms.
  • Three years traveling the world, mentoring, and learning from innovators in technology for international development. See NaturalInnovation.org.