[PIG] Kicksnet - A Safer & Friendlier Sneakernet

Kicksnet (working title)

Team member names
Sim & Jo

Short summary of your improvement idea

Kicksnet is a fork of the Sneakernet protocol with explicit safeguards in place (both human & software) to ensure a safe space to exchange knowledge & care. This project aims to bring community stewardship values & cybersecurity principles to knowledge sharing systems for over-surveilled & censored communities. This instance of the project is particularly concerned with providing a safe & useful space for LGBTQ youth & students of color in light of recent legislation in the U.S. State of Florida (and Texas) that aims to criminalize queer and trans histories as well as critical race theory in education.

1. What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

Sneakernet: an offline protocol for sharing information. In short, running a Sneakernet is as simple as putting your sneakers on and meeting up with a friend to hand them the information you want to share. As simple as the concept sounds there are some really large & complex use-cases of it globally, for example El Paquete Semenal in Cuba which distributes about a terabyte of data to millions of Cubans every week, supplying them with a bunch of digital media in light of low rates of internet access. It is also commonly used in labs, manufacturing floors, and big tech corporations to transfer large amounts of data quickly and securely, without eating up outbound network bandwidth.

While Sneakernet is regarded as secure in its resistance to common network-based attacks (i.e. packet sniffing, man-in-the-middle), there are still potential vulnerabilities observed by computing scholars. Namely, sneakernet is still liable to breaches in confidentiality and integrity, as the physical transfer of data might still require intermediaries. It also suffers from unpredictable latency due to the volatility of physical transport. Thus there is a need for an added layer of trust, encryption, and timely handshakes at the human and software level. Kicksnet seeks to address these vulnerabilities by updating sneakernet with core standards that foster trust at both a human and software level.

2. What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

To implement some core standards, listed below, that are defined (or fulfilled) at the local-level based on community-decided need & preference:

  • Stewardship roles for data care & maintenance
  • Trusted access points via local community spaces (e.g. book stores, community spaces, venues)
  • Data carriers (USB or micro-SSD sticks) with secure moderation software

See the initial sketches below to help illustrate the key ideas:

Map illustrating the structure of Kicksnet, showcasing various nodes and connections representing the network’s design.

Timeline representation of the development process of content moderation software, picturing initial UX ideas.

3. What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

We plan to conduct field research and interviews in Florida where much of the legal attacks on education that disproportionally censor Black & LGBTQ knowledge bases are occurring. This would entail speaking with students, teachers, and parents about how the antagonistic legislation has affected their communication rituals and overall wellbeing.

We’d also be interested in interviewing adults in the affected demographics about what people, places, and media were integral to their coming-of-age as marginalized youth. These interviews would not only color our definition of safe spaces and at-risk knowledge, but also reveal ways that Black and LGBTQ people have had to develop bespoke protocols with people of their own kind, while convening against the backdrop of white supremacist heteropatriarchy.

Finally, if our connections allow, we will interview folks involved in current Sneakernet operations, such as those in Cuba (centralized, updated regularly) and Afghanistan (less centralized), so we can get a better sense of how the existing protocol’s implementation depends on specific cultural and geographical contexts, as well as any areas of improvement informed by practice.

4. In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?.

We will run an A/B test of the Kicksnet protocol with pilot participants and develop a self-hosted server installed with Nextcloud or a comparable file hosting service to act as the central database.

5. How will you field-test your improvement idea?

A restricted-pilot stemming from a small-community workshop in which the site-specific implementation of Kicksnet will be determined (trusted access points, key stewards & ToS for software moderation) - the network should run for a short period of about a week or two with a platform for participants to provide feedback at their leisure & interviews before & after the pilot. The test would run in the team’s immediate locale (New York City/Philadelphia) or Miami.

6. Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

7. How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

Documentation of field-testing of this fork as well as open-sourcing the strategies for protocol development & moderation software would likely be the most accessible mode of sharing this improvement idea.

9. What is the success vision for your idea?

For Kicksnet or similar, care-based forks of Sneakernet, to provide another way for vulnerable communities to access critical resources without fear of over-policing, surveillance or otherwise invasion of privacy & thus safety.


Childhood freedom/surveillance seems like a broad issue that’s of relevance to protocol discussions. I like this project’s tie-in with cybersecurity as a reference point, and I wonder if it would also benefit from brief references to the free range children movement or to education sector-based discussions about how activities like free play can help children learn independent decision-making.

The project’s references to some current culture wars as a case study makes sense as a topic which is relatively accessible to study right now, and as a way of drawing attention to the project. I should also note that, speaking for myself in a personal capacity, I am sympathetic to the project’s political perspective. However, some passages read just a little bit like they are written as part of an application to a social justice-focused grant in the academic world, and readers who are not as familiar with those discourses might need to be introduced to those facets of the project in a different way.

I wonder if the framing of the research could potentially be adjusted to foreground the project’s relevance to protocols a little bit more, alongside its relations to broader discussions of freedom/control in childhood, while still retaining the integrity of all of the project’s goals.


Hey @2nd. Interesting concepts and rationale. I think of measures like Sneaknet as analogous to air gapping, as protocols for resisting the unstoppable forces of AI and mass surveillance. It’d be great to get a clearer picture of what resources are currently considered critical in the contexts you described and how they’re accessed/controlled etc. currently.

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Love this proposal. No notes.