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Social Layer in Wireless Mesh Network Communities

Origin of Interest
Internet Censorship Mobile communication cost Rural areas lacking Internet The Arab Spring & Communication Shutdown

Distributed Networks
Mondonet One Laptop Per Child FreedomBox Village Telco - Mesh Potato Next Net

Established Mesh Communities

Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network Freifunk FabFi in Afghanistan Dharamsala Wireless Mesh Wlan Slovenija

Why Mesh?
Share connectivity anywhere Repairs itself on the fly Lower Cost Decentralized Use in emergencies/political uprisings/rural

Some Open Mesh Protocols

Babel B.A.T.M.A.N. advanced OLSRd SMesh

With all this great tech...

Why arent there more communities? When will mesh reach critical mass? What about Common Person Implementation?

Social needs of mesh?

Community Building over Neighborhood Wireless Mesh Networks IEEE Tech & Society 2008 Social incentives: - Reward cooperation & resource sharing - Build Reputation / Trust

Cross Layer Cooperation

Cooperation is needed or mesh wont thrive Contribute as much as you consume Physical/Access Network Application Social

Resource Sharing
Reciprocal exchange economy of resources: Power/Battery Use Packet Forwarding CPU Cycles Internet Gateway Hardware/Software Knowledge

Reputation & Trust

Relying on each others contributions to maintain stability Physical proximity of mesh exploit real world aquiantances

Public needs to understand/empathize/ visualize mesh Need to engage hackerspaces

What about social games?

ugh, Farmville...32 million daily users Endless game cycles = endless networking Exchange Economy Social Networking Integration

Raph Koster

Social Mechanics for Social Games

Reciprocal & Gift Economies Trust & Reputation between players Guilds & Tribes - Grouped by association (homogenous) Task assignment for group members
(also in swarm intelligence)

Impact of Scale
Level 1 Group of People Level 2 Village/Campus Size Level 3 Neighborhood Level 4 Linked Neighborhoods Level 5 Metropolitan Area Network + Public ISP

Start slow, empower users over time

Amy Jo Kim, Community Building on the Web

Applying these mechanics...

Extrinsic Currency

Measuring contributions to: Power/Battery Use - Packet Forwarding - CPU Cycles

Intrinsic Currency
Knowledge & Teaching Hardware construction & Repair Software Development & Installing Running Internet & GSM Gateways Social/Community Presence

Game Scenario - remix of Treasure Isle

Starting out on own mesh node



Task Market

Woktenna instructable

Gained knowledge gems!


Protocol testing

Augmenting Community Interests

Address local needs for existing local networks (village/town, office, art space, etc.)

Extend Resource Economy past Mesh

Create need for local mesh as community asset, something to maintain...

...like a community garden

Ripple Monetary System

Peer to Peer Economy - Open & Decentralized, based on Trust - Monetary Honour System - Mesh community micro-economies?
Protoype site:


Physical Layer
Community purchased, commercial WiMax / Mutli-radio routers? FabFi Infrastructure openBTS + old GSM phones?

Application Layer
Javascript / HTML 5 interface: + Phonegap for Mobile

Avahi - DNS discovery

Summer Research

Chaos Communication Camp - Berlin

Learned from Freifunk communities in Germany and Italy Elektra, developer behind protocols

Malm, Sweden

+ studying Android mobile, Avahi, Javascript, protocols

Going Forward
Working with ITP student to create directional link + mesh between schools for test bed

Contact Summit 2011

Talking/feedback at bazaar Meeting with similar projects for collab

More research: Social game mechanics / Social network theory / Swarm theory / Interdepedent communities / P2P economies

Jonathan Baldwin jrbaldwin.com