If there's anything we learned from the revolutions in the Middle East, it's that the internet has become a critical tool for burgeoning democracies. So what to do in places where the internet is tightly controlled, or just unreliable? For residents of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, the solution is: build your own. Using help from the National Science Foundation and a pile of household trash, they've built an open-source wireless network that can transmit up to several miles. The only commercial components of the "FabFi" system are the wireless routers -- all of the networking can be done with home-brewed reflectors, most …
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Jess Zimmerman is the editor of Grist List.