The 2011 uprisings in the Arab world showed the Internet’s potential as a tool for both liberation and oppression. Protesters logged on to organize rallies that toppled dictators, while some leaders commandeered the Web to silence opposition.
The latter fact has some scholars and activists deeply concerned about the future of the Web. So concerned, in fact, that they’re busy creating an alternate Internet.
“Mesh network,” “Bazaar 2.0” and the “Freedom Box” are some of the names given to the technology and open-source software under development in the “free-network movement.” Those leading the charge want unfettered access to information and communication, two values they say are disappearing from a Web increasingly organized around the principle of profit. —ARK
The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Next month The Doctor will join hundreds of like-minded high-tech activists and entrepreneurs in New York at an unusual conference called the Contact Summit. One of the participants is Eben Moglen, a professor at Columbia Law School who has built an encryption device and worries about a recent attempt by Wisconsin politicians to search a professor’s e-mail. The summit’s goal is not just to talk about the projects, but also to connect with potential financial backers, recruit programmers, and brainstorm approaches to building parallel Internets and social networks.
The meeting is a sign of the growing momentum of what is called the “free-network movement,” whose leaders are pushing to rewire online networks to make it harder for a government or corporation to exert what some worry is undue control or surveillance. Another key concern is that the Internet has not lived up to its social potential to connect people, and instead has become overrun by marketing and promotion efforts by large corporations.