Sociology Gold: The sociology research of Goldsmiths, University of London

DiY WiFi: Re-imagining Connectivity (2013)

Kat Jungnickel

If you could re-make the internet, what would it be like? 

This book critically examines the cultures and practices of a hand-made version of the internet. Forged around barbeques, located on rooftops and sheds and made of found, adapted and off-the-shelf materials, this original study documents the collective work of individuals committed to making 'ournet, not the internet'.

Made from the ground up, or in this case from the backyard out, this is a uniquely cultural and deeply local digital communications network with trees, insects, makers' skills and the weather all contributing to its distinct shape and character. Rather than simply replicate the internet, these digital tinkerers inscribe wireless broadband technology with new meanings and re-imagined possibilities of use. What make-do methods, mods and tales of resourceful ingenuity permit is another way of seeing how technologies come into being – and how they might be different.

Drawing on rich ethnographic material, Jungnickel's research about the largest WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) community group in Australia provides an overdue account of the innovative digital cultures and practices of ordinary people making extraordinary things. Focusing on cultural technology use and creative misuse creates a compelling description of a unique version of the internet – an Australian one – and in the process enriches global understandings of wireless technology by signalling the potential for comparative studies.

The book also presents the first sustained study of homebrew high-tech culture via backyard technologists who imbue a Do-it-Yourself (DiY) ethos but do not do it alone – they Do-it-Together (DiT). This timely critique of collective DiT innovation in an increasingly networked society will be of interest to science and technology scholars and practitioners of maker culture. 

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