Mehan Jayasuriya is a technologist and writer based in Portland, Oregon. He is currently a Program Manager at Mozilla, where he oversees the NSF-WINS wireless innovation challenges, which focus on connecting the unconnected in some of the most difficult scenarios. He has previously worked for a variety of technology companies, academic institutions and non-profits, including Tumblr, NYU, General Assembly and Public Knowledge; his writing on culture, technology and policy has been published by The Guardian, Pitchfork and Gizmodo.
Before the Internet, there were hobbyist-built and maintained networks. These networks evolved alongside the public Internet, fed into its development and provided glimpses of what a global, public communications network might look like. I'll detail a few of these alternate histories in my talk, with a focus on networks built by artists, activists and women. I'll then highlight some of the problems that hobbyist-built networks can help solve today as well as some novel solutions from around the globe. Finally, I'll talk a bit about Mozilla's Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) Challenges, a series of National Science Foundation-sponsored Challenges which aim to support innovation in community wireless networks.