Digital technology enables new ways of forming networks to organise and communicate on a local and global scale
The New Scientist magazine had a short news story last week describing how the protestors in Hong Kong are using different forms of network to organise.
Assuming the authorities would attempt to block or shutdown mobile phone networks, activists adopted a different tactic – creating a mesh network that forms peer-to-peer between devices by joining the network using their wi-fi or Bluetooth connection. Naturally, there’s an app for that, and over 100,000 people in Hong Kong downloaded the FireChat app one Sunday.
There are risks with using such technology – the FireChat app currently has no built-in encryption and using Bluetooth to communicate could make it easier to identify exactly who (or at least the device) started a conversation.
But it is another example of digital technology being used to enable large groups of people to self-organise and communicate to an even larger audience in ways that would have been difficult to conceive in the pre-digital era. It is giving people a voice in scenarios that previously would have been far easier for authorities to silence.
Earlier today, a powerful photo was posted to Twitter from the demonstration:
Source: Ki Chong Tran, via Twitter
The full article can be viewed online – Hong Kong protestors use a mesh network to organise, New Scientist, September 2014
Featured image: iStockPhoto