According to Mother Jones, this off-the-grid community has become so popular in Athens and on nearby islands that it has developed its own Craigslist-esque classifieds service as well as blogs and an internal search engine.
“It’s like a whole other web,” AWMN user Joseph Bonicioli told the magazine. “It’s our network, but it’s also a playground.”
The AWMN began in 2002 in response to the poor Internet service provided by traditional telecommunications companies in Athens. However, the past few years have illustrated another use for these citizen-run meshes: preserving the democratic values of the Internet.
As the Internet has become a ubiquitous presence in day-to-day life, governments around the world have sought to control it. In 2011 for example, when former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak found out that protesters were organizing on Facebook, he commanded the country’s Internet service providers to shut down access, denying 17 million Egyptians access to the Web for days.
Later that year in the U.S., the city of San Francisco temporarily shut down cellphone service in its transit system to stop a protest.