The “Occupy Movement” might be nebulous, but it’s at least a stirring cross-section of ideas. One of them, as followed by Motherboard’s latest doc, “Free the Network,” was the idea to create an internet owned by the people. It kinda worked.
The movie is a long watch (by thin internet standards), but well worth it, following the work of thoughtful, network-obsessed college dropout Isaac Wilder. Wilder had a singular goal during Occupy Wall Street: there were important things happening in Manhattan, and they demanded an internet that couldn’t be provided by any ISP. Wilder considered OWS a sort of social beta test — the group’s wide social goals weren’t realised, but ideas like direct democracy and open source wireless were proven effective.
And it was that latter one Wilder latched on to, building a “Freedom Tower” — a private internet in a suitcase, with its own broadcast tower and easy instructions. Ideally, they’d be distributed across protests around the world. Pop them open, and communicate freely without fear of government blockage. It’s an ambitious project, to say the least, and one that was met with a brutal fix of social reality, rather than social utopia. Nonetheless, it’s a compelling part of the Occupy story untold by most news accounts, and one with implications far beyond one political movement in one city. It’s one kid’s story, but that one kid’s work could change everyone’s internet. Just maybe. [Motherboard]