I’m a fan of Stephen King. He wrote a book called The Stand that is awesome. As the infrastructure of the world slowly breaks down, one of the characters quotes Yeats, “The center does not hold.” What this means is, if something has a structure, and if that structure requires a single piece to maintain itself, as more stress comes to that center, that center reaches a breaking point. The center does not hold… everything together.
The Internet was designed to solve this very real problem. In the case of nuclear attack, the United States military needed to make sure it could still function. If there is no central hub to attack, then there is no single weak point. Of course, this led to another idea, a total war that ends in the total destruction of the enemy. The Cold War was the result.
The hackers of the world have have one-upped the U.S.
At first, the app FireChat sounds like a noisy wannabe competitor to Twitter. But, it’s got the future of the Internet built inside itself. According to Wired FireChat runs without needing a wifi or cellular connection. Instead, each device works as a hub, connecting to other devices via wifi or Bluetooth.
Kevin Metcalf, one of ALGORITHM’s technical consultants, came up with the similar idea several years ago when helping me to write a near-future dystopian hacker novel. Of course, in the novel, the entire Internet is stored and shared via each device, which is something far beyond what FireChat is capable of.
That decentralized Internet is also mentioned in Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother, only Doctorow used Xboxs instead of iPhones.
The Internet is freedom. We have to fight for it. FireChat is firing another shot in this information revolution. And it’s worth noting.