A Transdisciplinary Gaze on Wireless Community Networks

Stefano Crabu, Federica Giovanella, Leonardo Maccari, Paolo Magaudda


Abstract: This conversation aims at offering a transdisciplinary gaze on the phenomenon of wireless community networks: an emerging typology of local wireless infrastructures, which is built by activists as political and technological statement to face the hierarchical governance of the Internet and the issues of surveillance and control over digital networks. By a transdicliplinary gaze – emerging from the dialogue between science and technology studies (STS), legal studies, and computer science – this conversation focuses on the multi-modal ways and perspectives that can be adopted to study CNs; it also offers a reflection on challenges and opportunities arising from trasndisciplinary scientific work. In the field of STS, a growing body of literature has addressed CNs as an emblematic case study to analyse the engagement of activists and lay people in the emergence of socio-technical infrastructures and technologies. From a computer science perspective, community networks represent a challenge to develop new routing protocols, and standards to technically implement a bottom-up-approach in the building and management of innovative network architectures. Finally, from the point of view of legal studies, CNs offer the case of a still largely unregulated emerging technology, offering a novel field to test existing laws, especially under the point of view of the possible allocation of civil liability.

Keywords: wireless community networks; transdisciplinarity; media infrastructures; sustainable network growth; distributed architectures regulations.

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