I have an interest in decentralized communications for two broad categories of reasons:
- I don’t trust governments and service providers not to monitor, shape, and influence the free exchange of information. It’s not a conspiracy–it’s just what they do.
- Network infrastructure is susceptible to natural disasters, surge disruptions, and assholes.
So some interesting projects along those lines:
- ZeroNet (“Real-time updated, P2P websites using Bitcoin cryptography and the BitTorrent network”)
- PeerTweet (“Decentralized feeds using BitTorrent’s [Distributed hash table]”)
- How to Build a Low-Tech Internet
And some amateur radio-specific technologies:
Winlink, also known as the Winlink 2000 Network, is a worldwide radio messaging system that mixes internet technology and appropriate amateur radio radio frequency (RF) technologies. The system provides radio interconnection services including: email with attachments, position reporting, graphic and text weather bulletins, emergency relief communications, and message relay.
(See PDF of an excellent Winlink presentation here.)
HamWAN is a non-profit organization (501c3) developing best practices for high speed amateur radio data networks. HamWAN also runs the Puget Sound Data Ring, which is a real-world network implementation of the proposed designs.
So far, HamWAN networks have been used for things like low-latency repeater linking, real-time video feeds from distant locations, serving APRS I-gates, providing redundant internet access to emergency operations centers, and more. Any licensed radio amateur in the service area can connect their shack directly to the network with just a small investment in equipment and no reoccurring cost. Since many traditional uses for Internet at home are not compatible with Part 97 rules, this won’t replace your home Internet connection. However, it works and acts just like one.
That latter project in particular is one I’ve had my eye on for a while. I’m now in the coverage area map with the new tower in Belfair. It’s almost certainly worth $200 in hardware to play with.