Plan the Government-less Internet at Contact

Contact is an unconference organized by Douglas Rushkoff on the subject of building new, government-less Internets. The event will be held in New York City on October 20 2011.

Here’s part of Rushkoff’s explanation of the event:

At the epicenter of CONTACT will be the Bazaar – a free-form marketplace of ideas, demos, haggling, and ad-hoc connections. If you have visited the Akihabara, Tokyo’s ultra-vibrant open-air electronics market, or the under-the-highway open-air jade market of Kowloon, or even the Burning Man festival, you understand the power of combining commerce, physical location, and serendipity. A decidedly unstructured counterpart to the convened meetings, solo provocations, and the MeetUpEverywheres, the Bazaar will bring p2p to life, encouraging introductions, brokering, deal-making, food-tasting, and propositions of every kind. It is where the social, business, political, and spiritual agendas merge into one big human agenda.

Contact will hope to revive the spirit of optimism and infinite possibility of the early cyber-era, folding the edges of this culture back to the middle. Social media has come to be understood as little more than a marketing opportunity. We see it as quite possibly the catalyst for the next stage of human evolution and, at the very least, a way to restore p2p value exchange and decentralized innovation to the realms of culture, commerce and government.

Content was never king. Contact is. Please join us, and find the others.

Shareable: The Evolution Will Be Socialized

See also: 3 Projects to Create a Government-less Internet and 4 More Projects to Create a Government-less Internet


  1. Unfortunately, the government generously grants itself the power to regulate everything, including anything its subjects create. So, go ahead, create your own version of the internet. If it uses cables, you can count on zoning laws being activated. If it uses radio waves, the government will claim ownership of the radio waves, and you’ll be treated like a pirate radio station. No matter how unobtrusive the medium is, if it poses some sort of political risk, they will attempt, and probably eventually succeed at regulating it.

    But maybe I’m just being overly pessimistic.

  2. Of course there’s always going to be political risk. As Rushkoff wrote: “Even if we use ham radio or ‘wifi mesh’ networks to connect to each other, they can always be jammed by governments. True, but by that logic the authorities also can prevent us from speaking to one another by shooting us. At least the tyrant would be in the position of attacking the people’s network, instead of simply turning off the network he already controls.”

    Authorities jamming the networks is actually one of the biggest threats to one of these things. The Open Mesh Project is already discussing ways to try to jam the jammers.

    That’s the point of events like this: working togther to solve these sorts of problems.

  3. And then there is this:

    A group wants to launch a satellite in space to provide free internet. Of course, should something happen to the satellite, goodbye free internet.

    I thought about this after I posted my previous pessimistic comment. What would be a good way of making a free internet?

    Obviously, no part at all can be centralized, and the includes hardware manufacture AND resource gathering. If any part of creating the decentralized network is centralized, then the authoritarian forces who favor centralization, will then attack the centralized part and try to control it as the weakest link.

    So for example, let’s suppose that free internet consist of boxes every individual can assemble after downloading “open-source” plans off the internet without having to pay a dime, assembling it from materials they can generate by melting down milk cartons and other recyclables, using processes that don’t require a heavy capital investment (I’ve seen photos and video of Afghanis making pistols using relatively primitive methods). Let’s also assume that it would have to be wireless, since as soon as wires are involved, you begin to run into problematic, complex legal issues concerning zoning, easements, etc. What would authoritarian forces who benefit from centralization do? They can’t attack the plastic, because too many entrenched forces need to distribute plastic to make money. It would be difficult to stop the spread of the files; they can’t stop the spread of music files. The only thing I think they could do is do what the government does to suppress pirate radio stations: claim ownership of the aethers in the name of the “people,” then license them to private cartels and conglomerates, which will then make profits that they can funnel into government efforts to eradicate grass-roots competition. Possibly, they could make wireless signals that would drown out the people’s p2p signals. They would also build detection equipment to monitor emerging pirate networks, then send in the goon-squads to fine the perpetrators. Possibly, a new agency would be created, or an existing agency would take on a new jurisdiction.

    This then would put those who want to create a voluntary, decentralized, not-for-profit, free internet into a violent conflict with those who like profiting from centralized authoritarian model.

    Judging from history, the forces of centralized authoritarianism win because they have a leg up from thousands of years of more or less successful control, which means more funding, better organization, and institutional memory, a concept unheard of in ad-hoc groups.

    Well, that was pretty hastily dashed off. Can anyone think of a way around the whole “attack the aethers” strategy?

  4. It seems the Brazilian government gets the idea:

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