Here's a link to Nicolas Negroponte's rant about the coming age of mesh networks:
In the future, each Wi-Fi system will also act like a small router, relaying to its nearest neighbors. Messages can hop peer-to-peer, leaping from lily to lily like frogs ï¿½ the stems are not required. You have a broadband telecommunications system, built by the people, for the people. Carriers are aware of this, but they discount it because they do not feel there will be sufficient coverage. They are wrong.
Having thought Nick was pretty cool since Wired 1.0, I must say he's still cool, though what he's saying doesn't sound as far fetched to me anymore. Either he's slipping, or I'm catching up in the "big-thoughts" area. ;-)
In this article, I don't think he made the connection and obvious parallels that wireless networks have to their wired cousins. He's talking about lily-pads, when he should be talking about BBS's and the birth of the Internet. First there were just pockets of connectivity and universities... then the universities wired up their campuses - then they started connecting to each other building the backbones that eventually transformed into the network we all use now. This is already starting to happen. Universities are already starting to put wireless everywhere, check out this other Wired article about Dartmouth. It's happening.
It'll be just like the old BBS's. First I'll connect to my friend's house to share MP3s (if he's line of sight obviously). Then I'll connect to some company or university that's wireless too. Then these bigger organizations will hook up to make hubs and eventually we'll get decent connectivity. I don't think the new Mesh network will be completely separate, but the Internet will be more like highways where you connect when you need to go somewhere far away - like me connecting to El Paso right now to write this - but anything local, will be wireless and Telco-Free.
Just my far-off thoughts for tonight. Personally, I can't afford to set up a WiFi connection in the house just yet, so I'm a bit behind this revolution, but it's pretty obvious to me that it's coming. That's where the "manywhere.com" name came from, really. I'm a true believer in wireless stuff... Am I preaching to the choir?