Re: DIY Internet (reposted from SF Gate blog)

People are getting creative in building Internet systems without the benefit of centralized fiber-optic systems—makes me feel hopeful that the Internet in some forms will survive the unraveling of petroleum and fossil fuel based civilizations in the face of climate change and energy/resource/water depletion…. Human ingenuity is a wild-card that will change the face of the human society(ies) that survive the crash in very unpredictable ways.

Did you know that people in Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan are building their own wireless networks out of found materials? Just $60 of everyday items such as wood, cans, plastic tubs, wires and car batteries can provide internet service for hundreds of people. It’s like the “telephone” of your youth and the best MacGyver episode ever, all rolled up into one.

It works like this: A single commercial wireless router is mounted on radio frequency reflectors and covered in a metal mesh. Another router/reflector pair is set up at a distance. The two routers establish a network that can be used by anybody with a reflector. To build a reflector, all you need is a material ā€” wood, metal, plastic, stone or clay ā€” that can mount the metal mesh. The system can be powered with an automobile battery, so it doesn’t have to rely on fickle developing-world power grids.

The goal is simply internet access for all. And, believe it or not, networks are up and running in Kenya, Jalalabad, Pakistan, and in various hospitals and clinics around Afghanistan. The project is supported by MIT’s Fab Lab. Some of the scientists involved in the project are paying for it out of pocket, with some help from the National Science Foundation.

It’s an open-source project, so if you’re interested in building a DYI network here in the shadow of Silicon Valley, just hit up the wiki.

Hat tip to Fast Company for this awesome story.

Posted By: Cameron Scott (Email, Twitter, Facebook) | July 02 2011 at 01:45 PM

Listed Under: technology

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