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Reporting Without the Internet: Using Meshnets and Firechat for Journalism

October 9, 2014 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: Columbia Journalism School

What do you do if you are reporting on an event and the internet is no longer accessible?  

“Mesh networks are an especially resilient tool because there’s no easy way for a government to shut them down. They can’t just block cell reception or a site address. This hard-to-break connection isn’t super important for casual chats, but during tense political showdowns, it could be a lifeline.” (NPR)

This Thursday, we will be joined by Peter Valdez, who manages NYC Meshnet, a group whose mission is to setup a functional mesh network in New York City. By day, Peter is a programmer at Propellr, an investment crowdfunding startup.

Conversation will be co-moderated by Smitha Khorana, Tow Center DMA anCharles Berret, a PhD student in Communications at Columbia, and recipient of a 2014-15 Magic Grant from the Brown Institute.

 In the past week, 100,000 users in Hong Kong downloaded the free FireChat app between last Sunday morning and Monday morning (reported by the Wall Streeet Journal)  Through this app, users were able to create an insecure network using their cell phones.

Read more in the New York Times:

Hong Kong Protests Propel a Phone-to-Phone App 

and at NPR:

How Hong Kong Protesters are Connecing without Cell or Wi-Fi Networks

The mesh network is a way to access the internet without ISPs or Wi-Fi.