Mesh networks offer a different way to access information and services from the Internet. The circuitry, tools, and instructions to add a new mesh hotspot or node to a network in a village are decentralised. The code and protocols for adding a node to the network are open-source and can be shared through text messages, SD cards, or written instructions. Taking these open protocols and hosting them on a piece of hardware is typically completed in rural hack labs. These are then shared with the local community so they can host nodes in their homes, shops, and businesses.
It is in one of these rural hack labs in 2025 that a simple set of instructions is written to help communities set up hotspots for the first time. While the principles underpinning the code and hardware are relatively consistent, the material and skills available to house the technology are different in each village. A vernacular technology is created, with the design and build of each hotspot reflecting its geography and culture.
Dinesh and Vidya are working late, putting the final touches to the first edition of their ‘Make Your Own Hotspot’ guide. Dinesh looks across the table to Vidya.
“What’s troubling you?”
“I’m still figuring out how best to edit this so that there’s focus on the local design aspect”.
“Let me look at it”. Dinesh sits on the opposite side of the table and takes a pencil and notebook out of his shirt pocket. He pulls up his bifocals from around his neck and, brow furrowed, looks at what Vidya’s handed him.
“I think it looks fine, Vidya.” He removes his glasses and continues. “What’s important is for these communities to see that it is enough if the hotspots are compatible; that they don’t need to be alike. As long as they are able to talk to each other, they can take on any form and be made with anything, whether it’s the jondu grass and bamboo we have here at Iruway Farm or reuse the waste plastic of the city!”
Vidya laughs, “Do you think cities will ever want to make mesh hotspots?”
“I don’t know” replies Dinesh, “It would certainly be novel for the cities to learn something from us ‘villagers’, but I’m hopeful, Vidya, I’m hopeful.”