A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at TEDxUSC, in which I laid out the basic argument for MondoNet, a new project I'm working on with a few of my grad students at Rutgers. My basic point is that, despite the many amazing cultural, economic and political uses to which it's been put, the Internet has a fundamental flaw preventing it from being an effective tool for democratic political action and cultural innovation.
The flaw lies in its centralized architecture and hierarchical governance; no matter how much people resist against institutional power through innovative cultural forms, and no matter how much we lobby against oppressive and exploitative uses of the technology (e.g. the current battles over net neutrality), the network provides its operators with an excess of power that will necessary be exploited.
We propose to remedy this situation with an architectural intervention: namely, using ad-hoc, mesh networking technology to create a global network that is fundamentally resistant to censorship, surveillance and exploitation, because no single individual or institution can control the information flow on any significant scale.
Clearly, there is a lot to discuss here; we plan to publish a full-length academic article in The Information Society in July, and a pre-publication copy can be read at MondoNet.org. But we're still working on developing funding and fleshing out the engineering, so I welcome your feedback, criticisms and offers of help!
Autonomous Internet (99 as of 8 May 2011)