Urban Oracle is a critical reflection on internet products and should be considered in the light of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Free Software Foundation (FSF). It is also a practical demonstration of the potential of WLANs for small groups, communities and other special interest groups.
Urban Oracle addresses the proliferation of "siren servers" (Lanier 2013) and concerns over Net Neutrality by demonstrating the possibility of creating stand alone networks which allow users many of the benefits of the internet without the external surveillance or management by siren servers.
Small scale networks (local area networks - LAN) and small scale mobile networks allow a kind of flexibility and choice that are difficult to achieve with the internet due to its size. Privacy and security are significant issues within contemporary digital communities. Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities are particularly aware of these issues along with large corporations and governments. These are not easy issues to solve. The main solutions are various forms of encryption. Encryption adds additional complexity for users and adds to software bloat, so it's cumbersome all round.
An advantage of small scale "offline" networks is that they have many of the benefits for users of encrypted private online networks and are simple to use. The only technical requirement is a basic understanding of how to select for various networks on a device. Fortunately most contemporary computing devices allow fairly transparent access to this feature within a settings menu.
Urban Oracle demonstrates one kind of use of a small scale offline network. It also addresses the reliance we tend to have on online services such as email, social networking and messengers.
Some technical considerations
As they are, network protocols allow single connectivity to a network. This means if you choose to join, for example, wifi network B your device automatically disconnects from network A. Unplug the umbilical.
Nodes and ports
Setting up WLANs isn't simple but it isn't that complicated either. However once they are set up users, have access to all the building blocks of the internet on their own network. Most of these are FLOSS tools which are usually very well documented and more widely available across a range of operating systems and distributions than many other software.
Once you're ready to get out of this sample project and edit your own co