Free internet. As in, "Free Beer" AND "Freedom"
To save time, I'm just going to copy and paste in portions of a couple e-mails I wrote to a few friends about this lately, so a couple parts will repeat, but extra detail is also present. I just want feedback about it
The first idea on the list is what I would call a Black Internet (and when I say black, I'm talking Black Market...I know that's a terrible title, but it's not as bad as it sounds). The infrastructure of it would consist of nothing but already existent wireless internet hardware that people already own or could buy dirt cheap. Lots of people have wireless internet adapters and networking cards. All they need now is a piece of software to enable auto-configuring, Ad-Hoc, Wireless-Mesh-Topology network; a freelance, public controlled Intranet (that's INTRAnet, or, a very huge Local Area Network). Such a software already exists that enables such networking, and it's called Wipeer, and it runs on Windows only. The developers are considering going open source (and they should do it now before their idea is copied and someone develops an alternative faster than they can upgrade their own and have a Linux version available).
All communication from peer to peer on such a network is encrypted with high end encryption. So that, if you are conducting data transfers to others in the wireless mesh that you wish to be kept private from end to end, it can be done very easily and safely. Data Encryption is something of a blessing, these days. I don't understand why the entire internet hasn't become encrypted yet. Probably just to save on bandwidth... But it can be forced upon a public controlled wireless network.
File sharing isn't the only thing this network would support. It could also be used as a replacement for telephone calls. Also be a method for computer gamers to play multilayer video games with each other. Eventually, you would have such an infrastructure in place that within it would be several people who have dual network connections. One network is the wireless mesh, and the other is the actual internet. These nodes would act as doorways that would allow the resources on the actual internet to be shared with the wireless intranet. The possibilities of it's use are really endless. The only limit it would need to break is co-existence with the real internet, until the line between the two networks blur enough that you can't tell the difference between the two very easily.
Ok, so who would benefit? Well, to use an analogy, pretend we're talking about hobbyist CB Radio operators. You know...those yahoo's who yell at each other over the airwaves just for fun? Or worse, send messages in mores code to each other. Yeah, those nutty guys. Well, a long time ago, you had to have a special license to engage in this form of communication. But later on, that rule was dropped, and just anybody could participate if they wanted to. I even knew a guy who went so far as find another guy to trade files with via a special kind of external modem and a CB radio. No phone line. And we thought we were nerds. This guy lived in Ozawkie, right next to the middle school. (I ever tell you about Rick?)
Blah blah, anyway. People who would wish to participate in some sort of wireless mesh internet are the types who would start off by doing it as a hobby. But later on, it's fringe benefits would become viral, and spread like gossip. "What? You can P2P file share? Talk to others in your neighborhood, even your city, via the computer, and for free? And I don't have to pay anybody? And it's legal? Awesome!" Well it may not be 100% legal, but proving it illegal would be 99% impossible, thanks to heavy encryption.
Seems like the only thing that stands in the way of giving people access to the internet for free is copper wire and a $40 bill and some nosy ISP or worse.... But the internet, the very concept of this form of global communication, isn't something that is impossible to rebuild without wires or fiber at all, but instead, radio waves and wireless devices and built voluntarily by the public. Access to it would eventually become practically global, or at least, as available as a cell phone might be (because they're are a lot of people there). Sounds impossible, but where else can the internet go in the next 10 years? Where has it gone in the last 10 years? Everywhere, faster and faster. People need it. It's addictive for good reason. But they also want ensure it to be truly democratic in form and nature. Not monitored and spied on.
Traffic: The flow of data would happen in the same manner that data flows in a bittorrent swarm. You would send a file to someone by bursting scattered chunks of data towards random people, but it would still be routed to the place it needs to go to, using routing protocols that comply with IEEE 802.1s, or something similar. When you request a file from soneone, it could actually comes to you from several different people at the same time, either because they have a copy of it too, or are just distributing their available upload/download bandwidth they currently have available; everybody shares the load. Cable modems limit upload bandwidth at about 64KB a second. It's worse with DSL. But we all know that our own wireless adapters and wireless access points/routers are well capable of transmitting several Megabits a second in both directions, especially if you're using 802.1n or better. I mean, we're actually on the cusp of witnessing consumer wireless network devices cross the Gigabit data transfer range. Why not put that bandwidth to better use?
Do I want to make money off of this? No. I don't want to play a centralized role in this, at least not one where I might be held accountable. Then again, it's either that, or no role I guess. I might as well try it. How might I do this?... I think the only way to get something like this off the ground is through some sort of viral marketing, reliance on word of mouth, and a website that would give visitors live feedback on the likeliness that someone else in their neighborhood would be interested in participating in such a project. So, you'd have a map of Topeka (or wherever), divided into arbitrary regions, which would have tally marks of the number of people who live in those places who have indicated that they have downloaded whatever software is available to them from the same website (which I would host) and that they are interested in seeing others in their neighborhood pickup the ball and play. It's not intended to replace the internet, but rather, expand it's freedom into local regions (and perhaps, allow the regular internet to become sanitized so the RIAA has a harder time tracking people). File sharing sure might play a big part in it, but so would a lot of other features. It would be targeted against cable companies, telephone companies, and eventually internet service providing companies, the RIAA, the MPAA, enemies of the constitution...etc. etc. Trying to ban it would be in direct violation of the first amendment, so the concept of a black internet has nothing illegal about it by itself. It is neutral without participation, so the idea is not illegal. How people use it, that would be left to them.
So....CB radio + Computer = Black Internet. Or whatever. It's just a dream. But it is within our grasp if we just want it enough. Call it "Plan B' if Net Neutrality fails. It is only a possibility.
Last edited by diablo75; April 3rd, 2007 at 08:08 PM.
Reason: Added emphasis