Free the Network

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Motherboard TV has debuted a short documentary on mesh networks and Occupy Wall Street, with a special focus on the Free Network Foundation. Douglas Rushkoff and Rhizome contributor Melissa Gira Grant are also interviewed.

If the argument for mesh networking, a sort of pirate radio Internet scheme that allows people to talk to one another online through no middle man, is that a centralized ‘Net lends itself to the sort of surveillance and censorship that, however futile, strokes the Internet kill switch of science fiction, is there a way to circumvent that system altogether? Is there a way to build a new network from the bottom up? To occupy a fresh Internet outside the existing confines of the Web? Or is that all just the stuff of ideological fantasy?

To check the pulse of the Internet – and to get a feel for what life’s like in the digital nerve center of what’s arguably the first fully Web-fueled social movement in America – Motherboard has been following Wilder and Tyrone Greenfield, communications director for the Free Network Foundation, for the past half year. Through the thick of Occupy marches, in squats and test-lab offices, on rooftops and all places in between, we saw Wilder, Greenfield and the FNF building and perfecting their Towers and their humble, cooperatively owned, physical Internet...


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Connecting at ContactCon

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Last week, Douglas Rushkoff hosted ContactCon at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in the Lower East Side. This unconference model symposium, co-organized by Vanessa Miemis, aimed to put into action ideas that challenge censorship, corporate ownership, and other unfree aspects of internet technology. As Rushkoff explained to Alternet's Sarah Jaffe, the event hoped to "reify the 'net values of 1992 back up to 2012."

Douglas Rushkoff's Keynote at SXSW 2010

The event started with "provocations" from participants representing progressiving technology organizations like FreedomBox and Telecomix (videos), in addition to well known speakers like Eli Pariser and Laura Flanders. Afterward, participants organized into small groups discussing issues ranging from the highly technical — mesh networks and coownership of the physical layer — to a proposal to organize hacker spaces in libraries (which was well received by the audience, for, as Rushkoff pointed out, the idea is clear and actionable...

 

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