The RootIO (roots radio) is a civic media project to develop a loosely-integrated, content-agnostic “solution stack” for peer-oriented radio networks. The project aims to mix communities, telephony, networking, and radio to create new models of community information. RootIO crosses the best parts of community radio, broadcast networks, and peer production into a vertically integrated platform, gluing together existing technologies and creating new ones where necessary.
RootIO grew out of the recognition that despite the wonders of mobile telephony and the Internet, radio is still a vibrant medium, and in many places it is where most people get the bulk of their information. It doesn’t require literacy, a personal device, or much power, it is transmitted free of charge, and it comes built in to many of the phones used around the world.
But radio is a broadcast medium, and hasn’t yet benefited much from the advances in peer networks and production that the Internet has enabled. And small stations benefit the least.
The Uganda Connection
Our initial work is distributed between the US and Uganda. RootIO is _not_ a development project! Our approach seeks to be scalable, so that the cheapest stations in the world can participate, but the US authors want to run stations like this in the US (and soon we can!). Radio culture in Uganda is rich and vibrant, with a mix of community, commercial, religious, and political stations. Still, most of these stations are regional, and when they do well their goal is usually to grow.
Christopher Csikszentmihályi is a technologist, humanist, designer, and artist. His work is focused around designing information and communications technologies for communities to mitigate the negative aspects of globalism. He is currently helping to start a new program around design for social change at the Art Center College of Design, where he is a Professor of Media Design. Prior to that, he cofounded and directed the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, dedicated to developing technologies that strengthen communities. He also founded the MIT Media Lab’s Computing Culture group, which worked to create unique media technologies for sociocultural and political applications.
Jude Mukundane is a software developer and technology enthusiast. His work mostly involves development of distributed applications communicating over IP networks. He is currently working with Uganda Telecom as Head of VAS and Technology Innovations to devise innovative ways of harnessing telecommunication technologies for service delivery. He worked on the Mobile VRS project with UNICEF for birth and death registration over USSD.