Here's an interesting link from alert reader jack. Emily Gertz writes at WorldChanging:
The internet's been great for helping me make new friends in San Francisco and Toronto... all from my home office chair in Brooklyn.
But it hasn't done much for putting me in touch with the hundreds of people who live within a few blocks of my apartment.
Neighbornodes are group message boards on local wireless networks. And local here means really local -- the nodes transmit a signal for about 300 feet. When you get online using your nearest Neighbornode, you have access to the node's bulletin board, where you can both read and post. Not on the node? Can't read the board.
Nodes are also extensible -- several Neighbornodes in close proximity can form a "supernode" and transmit community information street by street, while remaining geographically grounded in the local nabe.
From finding out why the nearest laundromat has shut down (big local quality of life issue, trust me!) to why the cops were on the block last night, from where the good yard sale is to changes in local zoning, to simply making a few friends right nearby, there are all sorts of down-to-earth reasons it might be good to shift attention from the cross-continental, trans-oceanic network for a bit, and get better connected with the local neighborhood.
I think she's right. Note well, that if you or anyone wanted to be a 21st Century block captain (for the good guys, naturally), this technology could help you do that.
Of course, RDF writes in comments:
I made the startling discovery several years ago that the people I'm trying to organize don't generally read the papers.
The problem is finding the locus and modus to reach the ones who are being well and truly fucked by the Powers That Be. What Oscar Zeta Acosta called the "cockroach people" in his classic "The Revolt of the Cockroach People."
Now, I don't think the cockroach people are any more likely to have WiFi than they are to be reading the papers. How to connect to them?
Incidentally, I think that most people are "well and truly fucked by the Powers That Be." Heck, that's what living in an oligarchy means. There are terrible gradations, it is true. I've only been grindingly poor for a couple years, and now I have what would, I guess, be called a "good job." But you know what? To the Powers That Be, I'm just another cockroach.... FWIW, I think we have to get all the cockroaches to, um, connect... 'Cause otherwise we'll get stomped one by one.
NOTE If Mayor John Street would ever get of his ass and wire Philly, the neighborhood nodes would be very easy to create. I wonder why he doesn't? Montreal has a grass roots effort to wire the island, I wonder why Philly can't?