I remember when I needed to ask permission from my parents to make a local telephone call. And a long distance call? Fagettaboutit! When I needed to look up some information for a class or a hobby project? Head down to the library and go through the card catalog (and by that I mean a bunch of boxes with a bunch of typed cards in them). We did have a Citizen’s Band radio, if you liked to talk to truckers all day long. And the Playboys? Behind the bathroom wall or above the ceiling tiles, until the old man found them and then they mysteriously disappeared.

Yes, we are pretty spoiled by the Internetz. But that doesn’t mean we can’t complain! We want our Games of Thrones in 4K HD, super fast low latency web browsing, instant access to every piece of information in every repository in the galaxy, and live streaming video and audio conferences with our fellow travelers in the solar system.

Oh and right, we don’t want any damned censorship, and we certainly don’t want any surveillance of our totally legal and completely innocuous internet activities. And it better not cost more than twenty bucks a month!

Fool of a Took! Aren’t you being a bit naive? Sure, this new Elven technology was miraculous at first, and promised almost instantaneous access to free and unfettered communication and information sharing for the benefit of all of Middle Earth. But then inevitably, evil gods (I know, I repeat myself) and corrupt wizards gain more and more control over this network, and before you realize it the only information you get is the version of reality that the masters want you to see, and while you think you are having a nice confidential chat with your buddy in Minas Tirith, really, The Eye sees and hears everything.

So do we need to go back to card catalogs and CBs? Possibly. There are other options, and one of them is a mesh network.

Mesh networks are really a modern iteration of what the internet was originally supposed to be – a peer to peer network of computers that voluntarily connect to other computers for the purpose of communications and sharing information. Mesh networks can be wired or wireless, and they use mostly off the shelf technology (with a little custom configuration of course).

Mesh networks can be extremely fast, much faster than most household (and many business) connections. They are also resilient, and the more connections in the network the more resistant they are to outages or even deliberate attempts to shut down the network. Security can be as tight or loose as you want, and is totally controllable by each individual. While there is a bit more upfront cost, you can save a lot of money by either sharing gateways to the internet, or even running your own private network!

We’ll show you the basic design of a mesh network, look at some of the most well known examples of voluntary mesh networks (including Guifi.net, the network that encompasses Catalan and much of Valencia in Spain), display some of the equipment we have used to build our own ad hoc mesh networks at previous AgoraFests, and look at the future of this technology. Mesh networks are gaining more popularity every day, as governments increase surveillance and censorship, and large corporations attempt to monopolize internet access.

Perhaps it is time you got your own Palantir?

To learn more and to sign up for Agora Symposium 2018:

Agora Symposium 2018