Netless, turning ad-hoc networks into homebrew ubiquity.


Taking a lesson from the advent of distributed mobile ad-hoc networks, “Netless“, is a home brew version of these systems that employs a small wireless device and with built-in storage, that swaps data between other devices when they are in close physical proximity. Rather than rely on cell towers for connectivity, the project employs a large amount of low power antennas scattered around an urban area that relay data within this mobile grid. This is an attempt to subvert both corporate and government control of these networks, by putting the means of distribution into the people’s hands. Think of it as a form of “Socialist” internet, where the “people” control how and where the information travels and what it contains. The project adheres by the motto “Yours Truly” where the data is only as valuable as who receives it next and in what physical proximity. Although this idea is not entirely novel, the existence of cheap materials and components to allow a mass distribution of nodes has enabled the possibility for more people to have these devices. Despite the project’s intention, it might have also worked as an iPhone “app” that would only swap data (over Bluetooth or through the Internet) with others who had the app and were in the same physical location. This is evident with the “Bump” app that uses a mixture of GPS coordinates and Internet connectivity to allow two users to swap data on their iPhones by simply “bumping” their devices together. Regardless, “Netless” adds a nice homebrew feel to an overused idea.

Jonah Brucker-Cohen