DIY networking can serve two complementary objectives:
1) to improve Internet connectivity in a certain region or local area
2) to support local interactions and services.
DIY networks can be seen as “organic”: they are created by local communities, reflect local culture, and the data they use can be generated and consumed in the same place. DIY networks can also bring people together, face-to-face, instead of keeping them online all the time.
Since these types of networks are owned and operated by individuals, significant coordination can be required around various issues: from purely technical, like the underlying networking protocols, to more social and political, like the design of the applications running on the network and the governance of the whole ecosystem (access and resource allocation, cost recovery, community support, conflict resolution, etc.). For such interactions to be productive and fruitful, one should carefully distinguish between the two main roles of a community network, Internet access vs. local services, and their possible combinations.
The MAZI project is exploring the important reasons why such networks should also be promoted as infrastructure for hosting local services, built and used by local communities.