Social and Technological Limitations

One of the benefits and advantages of mesh networks is that are free from the infrastructure and governance of the Internet, like that of countries like China where the government highly regulates Internet use. But this is also one of the downfalls of a mesh network (or many community intranet designs): They can lack standardization. Without standardization or governance, someone can and will come to control it. The Internet is political in the same way that society is, and this allows for deviant leaders to control or direct the flow of information through the network (Rundle & Conley, 2007). While mesh networks are highly redundant, allowing multiple hop paths for information to flow in the case that one node (which functions as both a router and a device to access the information) goes down, little policy can be enacted to maintain efficiency or even curb corrupt activity, which is prone in any anarchical infrastructure (Ross & Weill, 2005). In the case of Library Box, if the server (the box) goes down, all of the information on is rendered inaccessible.

The Library Box is a way of delivering information or providing access access the intranet, but because the information provided by it may only exist there, there is not way to sufficiently verify what’s contained on it. Moreover, if it is the only source for information because a user has no access to the Internet, there is little way to validate or check sources. If the purpose is to provide wireless access to information, like books or guides, a user must implicitly trust that the owner of the information is a reputable source.

Especially in wireless mesh networks, security poses a great problem because there is no existing infrastructure that all information must pass through. Simply, every node becomes an easy entry point for attack because adequate encryption requires far too complex of a network structure: Inherent in a mesh or ad hoc network is the simplicity, and essential encryption technology runs counter to that ideal (Yi, Wu, Zou, & Liu, 2010). Still, there are researchers who have proposed methods of protection in a wireless mesh network (Gupta, Rawat, Malik, & Gupta, 2012, Wan, Ren, Zhu, Preneel, & Gu, 2010).

Mesh networks are virtually inexpensive to set up and expand as a community intranet, but that also assumes that users who need to access them have the necessary equipment. Still remaining is the issue of putting a monitor or other I/O device to read or engage with information on the network. These devices are costly, especially for parts of the world where people earn only a few dollars a day.

Research in the digital divide can overlook the cost of the devices necessary to access in the Internet in favor of focusing on just the issue of connection, but this could be a semantic issue regarding the term “digital divide” (Jaeger, Thompson, Katz, & DeCoster, 2012).

Nevertheless, thinking that this technology will help to eliminate the digital divide can be erroneous because creating a community intranet simply provides another access point without addressing a disparity in the community with regards to skills, knowledge, opportunity or even democracy (Eubanks, 2007).

References

Eubanks, V. E. (2007). Trapped in the digital divide: The Distributive paradigm in community informatics. The Journal of Community Informatics, 3(2), Retrieved from http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/article/view/293/318.

Gupta, P., Rawat, P., Malik, S., & Gupta, S. (2012). Securing WMN using honeypot technique. International Journal on Computer Science and Engineering, (4)2, 235-238.

Jaeger, P. T., Bertot, J. C., Thompson, K. M., Katz, S. M., & DeCoster, E. J. (2012). The intersection of public policy and public access: Digital divides, digital literacy, digital inclusion, and public libraries.  Public Library Quarterly, 31(1), 1-20.

Ross, J. & Weill, P. (2005). A matrixed approach to designing IT governance: throughout an organization, individuals make decisions daily that influence the need for and the value received from information technology. MIT Sloan Management Review, 46(2), 26-40.

Rundle, M. & Conley, C. (2007). Ethical implications of emerging technologies: A survey. UNESCO: Information for All Programme, 1-87.

Wan, Z., Ren, K., Zhu, B., Preneel, B., &  Gu, M. (2010). Anonymous user communication for privacy protection in wireless metropolitan mesh networks. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, 59(2), 519-532.

Yi, P., Wu, Y., Zou, F., & Liu, N. (2010). A Survey on Security in Wireless Mesh Networks. IETE Technical Review, 27(1), 6-14.

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