The Promise of Meshnets: Part2

UPDATE 9:26am EST, Thur. Oct. 31, 2013:

As if to underscore why the current iteration of the Internet could be better, consider this statement:

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials. . . The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters . From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

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In Meshnets & the Tech-Saturated Bay: Part1 I expounded upon the opportunity that I believe we’re now presented with thanks to technology, which have the potential to truly be game-changing. This post – Part2 – goes a bit more into the tech itself around Open Garden and meshnets.

Lots of love to my friend Paige Peterson (who works at Open Garden) who contributed heavily to the informative nature of the post below – it’s yet another example showing how we’re better off inter-connected!

It’s not gonna be politics. It is not going to be activism. Those things are great because they gotta educate people but they’re not going to solve the problem. What is going to solve the problem is technology. Technology is going to make it happen.
– Rick Rynearson of Veterans Against Police Abuse (VAPA) [watch video with Rick, “Spy Car Protects Against Unscrupulous Cops“]

First, let me preface this info by drawing a parallel to policing. As is often advocated here at CopBlock.org, it is the top-down, hierarchical structure of policing that sets the stage for the inability of its actors to supply the stated service of justice and protection and accountability. Instead, a transparent, bottom-up solution that erases any vestiges of doubles-standards would be much preferred.

looped-networks-best-branched-networks-meshnets-copblockTo understand why the technology in a mesh network works consider an example from nature – leaf venation. Also, consider the human circulatory system, neural connections in the brain, red woods (sprout from roots of other trees), mycelium (bacteria growth), swarm movements, human relationships, etc.

Currently, mesh network initiatives start out as providing Internet access to address the market at hand – you can’t sell people something they don’t know they want. The ability to provide access to knowledge for billions of people is undeniable. Apps like Open Garden act as a “hook” to get people, who previously may not have been online, connected to the Internet. With increasing deploying, it’ll facilitate the density of the mesh being sustainable and reliable.

An example of a local service using a mesh is how those involved with Sudomesh were able to come to an agreement with the Internet Archive who is based in Richmond, CA to be a main node. They are going to have to stretch the mesh from Oakland out to Richmond, which will be a huge project to maintain (since a single line of nodes is just as centralized and susceptible to failure). Therefore, if the Internet here in “the states” was ever shut off, the Oakland mesh would be hooked into the Internet Archive – they’d have a backup of the Internet on-hand!

Some techy background that might be good to consider:

  • the power consumption (on average) of 4G = 10 x WiFi = 100 x Bluetooth, which is pretty key in areas and situations where energy can be scarce. This also has an effect on speed, though. At least with Bluetooth you don’t get more than 2 Mb/s. Enough to watch a video, not enough to upload something like video efficiently
  • Bluetooth 4.0 is starting to become adopted, though not quickly enough. It enables dual modes: low energy and high speed
  • WiFi is the way to set up a community mesh network using ad-hoc Wi-Fi specifically
  • the trend in mobile devices and computers is going towards WiFi direct which is basically ad-hoc wifi take 2. New Android devices support the hardware and software side as well. It is basically Bluetooth at Wi-Fi speeds (and Wi-Fi energy consumption)
  • Wi-Fi offload – using WiFi instead of your mobile data plan saves money and battery

Wi-fi modes are avoiding the “access point” (AP) set-up which is how most routers are enabled today. The router is the hub and connect out to devices that are considered clients – but the routers in this situation are at the top and do not have the ability to connect to other routers as peers. Community mesh networks flash routers with a new operating system, OpenWRT aka the “Linux for routers” and upload a software protocol (Sudomesh uses BATMAN) which enables the mesh network part using ad-hoc WiFi to connect the routers horizontally.

types-of-networks-meshnets-copblock

In terms of “where they are now”…

Open Garden has been available for free download on their website and the Google play store for about 1.5 years and has around 400,000 active users world-wide. Taking advantage of an app-based distribution style and venture funding, we are able to get this technology out to many more people in a much more timely fashion than community initiatives. You don’t need to be technical other than downloading an app on two devices to make Open Garden work. It’s built to be seamless and run in the background. It really should be embedded in the operating system and it’s quite a miracle that networking software like this could be made in an application. Imagine how awesome it would be if Open Garden was on every device via operating system feature by default.

To be governed – is to be watched, inspected, directed, indoctrinated, numbered, estimated, regulated, commanded, controlled, law-driven, preached at, spied upon, censured, checked, valued, enrolled – by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so.

Wouldn’t you this quote by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to be irrelevant as there is simply no ability for a person or group of people to behave in such a way? We can get there.

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Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of CopBlock.org. As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability. Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.