Recently Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with the very creation of the World Wide Web, wrote an open letter to the world marking its 29th anniversary. In this letter (published here on The Guardian) Mr. Berners-Lee advocates for a large-scale recalibration and expansion of the internet, the cyber-phenomenon that defines the 21st Century’s modern digital infrastructure.
His invention is the most smashing technological success in recorded history. No tangible innovation has scaled so far and wide, with such speed and agility, spawning with it not just an industry, but a fleet of industries, destroying as many as it created, and profoundly altering still as many. But the web is only an adolescent leviathan. It must be disciplined as well as encouraged, lest it go down the wrong path.
Original Photo by: Official Leweb Photos
Nearly 4 billion people live without access to the internet. There are numerous regions on earth where empty hands are as ubiquitous as iPhones and Androids in Silicon Valley. But what are those without access missing?
On one hand they are ducking ever-pounding waves of scams, hacks, pestilent advertisements, and an endless stream of gibberish posted by a generation beset with Attention Deficit Disorder. Even more insidious is the fact that behemoth corporations have come to control massive swaths of traffic funneled through their web services like Twitter, Facebook and Google and they suck up any competition with hostile acquisitions.
But on the other hand, they are lacking a quintessential toolbox that can grant them inroads to commerce, communication, safety, training and education, not to mention entertainment and an overall broadening of horizons.
This bi-polar set of conditions provides the basis for the two questions Mr. Berners-Lee poses:
“How do we get the other half of the world connected?”
“Are we sure the rest of the world wants to connect to the web we have today?”
These questions are sober and to the point. They beg a third: Can we open the digital doors to the underprivileged masses without selling them out? The answer, is yes. There is a parallel internet underway, one that is at once agile, scalable, and easily deployable. But it is also decentralized, impartial to the world wide web, autonomous, and outfitted with the cutting edge of Blockchain 2.0 technologies.
The SmartMesh (smartmesh.io) ecosystem allows people’s smart devices to become nodes of self-sustaining networks that do not require any ISP or telecom carrier to operate. Users can communicate, make data transfers, and even execute secure digital payments in cryptocurrencies. If they provide one of their devices as a multi-hop data transfer relay, they can earn rewards in SMT Tokens which are tradeable ERC-20 fungibles already available on multiple worldwide exchanges. But wandering nodes aren’t 100% reliable and can easily drift out of range.
Enter the MeshBox (meshbox.network), which is a futuristic hardware device that adds routing and signal strength to local SmartMesh mesh networks. MeshBoxes also can provide data storage space and stream stored content to user nodes and owners can collect cryptocurrency rewards in MESH or SMT tokens for providing these services. Finally, a MeshBox can act as a gateway between the greater world wide web and the entire mesh network. Indoor and outdoor Meshbox models can be deployed, the latter having ranges of up to 10km and running on solar power.
“…in some countries, the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband remains more than 20% of average monthly income.” – TBL
Elon Musk has plans to set up an orbiting fleet of mini-satellites on the perimeters of earth’s stratosphere in order to blanket our planet with connectivity via his Starlink initiative. But, even assuming all the satellites operate properly, they can only broadcast one way to smartphones, because the phones themselves are not powerful enough to return the signal. The MeshBox, however, will be able to establish bi-directional communications with Starlink and serve as the portal between the satellites and local mesh networks.
The SmartMesh ecosystem will also be able to integrate with any present IoT infrastructure and have an SDK that developers can build upon. It will be compatible with the Ethereum blockchain and interoperable across various others such as the Bitcoin blockchain. Tokens can be launched on the SMChain and SmartMesh partner Dcntral (dcntral.com) will be the first to do so. SmartMesh ecosystems will be built from the ground up supporting locals to collaborate and extend out as they wish. MeshBox nodes can serve as local digital schools, video streaming hubs, and mini e-commerce markets.
“The web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today. What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms.” – TBL
Smartmesh’s Mobile Raiden offline payment system allows internet-free digital payments, supporting local economies, and vice-versa. These transactions can bring life to a lively intercultural world market, and like the Silk Road of ages before, a wealth of information, culture and history can be exchanged within these digital habitats. In a thriving multi-dynamic peer to peer hybrid mesh, the overkill of mega-corporations is mitigated through the plurality and spontaneity of channels teeming in the living network.
“The future of the web isn’t just about those of us who are online today, but also those yet to connect.” – TBL
The SmartMesh ecosystem is built upon individual nodes, just as Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of the internet was, and it empowers individuals with the freedom to communicate, transact, and make value transfers within an agile framework outside the reaches of dominating hegemony. It will bring a new highly customizable set of tools to a population who needs them most. But they are not the only ones who will benefit, because there are manifold gems in the rough waiting to sparkle. When they do they will shine for us as new stars are born illuminating the undiscovered future.