How? Advances in wireless technology such as ubiquitous wireless routers, community mesh networks which are easily expandable and self-healing as well as long range wireless efforts such as HPWREN indicate a possible future for a community based internet free of the centralized control of telephone corporations and governments. While this is definitely a fork, more forks are to come and we can only hope that a few networks will emerge which can be broad enough to span most of the globe.
Major questions remain to be solved, such as speed issues, routing issues, DNS control, splits and neutrality. The Autonet, or Autonomous Internet project seems to begin to address this rapidly changing situation, where today Germany ( http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0906/msg00023.html ) has installed internet filtering as well and more countries are to come. While today those cut off are defying copyright laws, tomorrow any other political issue may be the cause for being denied access to global networks. While today the FBI is content to steal servers from information providers like Indymedia, perhaps tomorrow they will not be happy until indymedia is completely cut off of the network, or other open sources of information such as blogs, twitter accounts and social networks of dissident groups.
The popular revolt in Iran and subsequent disruption of network access by the Iranian government is only a glimpse of what is to come in the US and around the world, where the first line of attack against political resistance is to cut off network access. By establishing a community based, wireless, global network we can allow groups of individuals, not corporations, to maintain freedom of communication; We can create out right to communicate instead of asking for it, and continue to route around obsolete intellectual property laws which restrict our dreams and our creativity. Join this effort by going to http://alt-bit.org and contributing to this research, lets start outlining the problems, finding the technical solutions and work out the issues, collectively, as a Free Software / Open Hardware project, using open licensing.
Another urgent reason for Autonet is one that has motivated Free Software hackers for so long: Technological progress without a reliance on corporate support. Given the current financial and economic crises, how long can we expect dinosaurs like phone companies to survive? If one of these crises turns into disaster, the consequence is likely to be the disruption or collapse of the global networks on which we rely. I am not ready to give up what has been gained from these networks, including a worldwide communication between political actors empowered through fast information flows. We must start this long, difficult project today so that we may be ready for unexpected dangers which threaten our capability to communicate as a multitude, globally.
To add to the project, go to http://trac.alt-bit.org/wiki/projects/autonet
To sign up to participate, go to http://trac.alt-bit.org/register