Mesh networks have been subject to speculation for years as one of the first possible variations of the Internet that could function completely separately from the Google-driven version we've become so familiar with today. In a story for MIT's Technology Review, Tom Simonite reports on the ways mesh networks have been used during natural disasters like Haiti's 2010 earthquake to connect local authorities and rescue workers in the absence of access to the normal Internet. With a special piece of software, cell phones, wi-fi routers, and laptops can all be connected on one network that's only accessible to those with the right software and permission. Instead of Google and Facebook's massive servers sending out signals to everyone with a Comcast account, mesh networks allow a smaller, private network to be formed, allowing for communication and data storage separate from the traditional reach of the Internet. Mesh networks point to a future where the Internet becomes fractured and people begin to build their own protected networks to serve local groups and communities without fearing interference from the larger forces that have turned to mainstream Internet into a swamp of surveillance and advertising.

Read the story here