Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Wi-Fi networks as Materialized Media

Media is a complex of information, tool and approach. The three aspects weave political, social, cultural and economic issue in a material/non-material web. This paper aims to present how Wi-Fi access acts as a media representation in tangible/intangible objects and spectacle.

Wi-Fi networks penetrate deeply and spread widely in Europe and North America, such as Wi-Fi community Freifunk in German and commercial AT&T in USA. Popular Wi-Fi hotspots provide easy and location-flexible access to Internet. Unlikely mobile phone, Wi-Fi can create a space to gather users to share the connection and offer low-cost and multi-user facilities than traditional network cables. The ownership and membership of Wi-Fi networks are heterogeneous, such as commercial, personal, institutional, community or public use and the distinctions make Wi-Fi networks create social boundaries among Wi-Fi users. People obtain information through different media, Internet and TV, and the access relates closely to person. Wi-Fi access points integrate users into a bigger and complicated group level, like family member or company employees. Commercial providers try to occupy particular locations to monopolize Wi-Fi access and grassroots organizations want to make Wi-Fi free and liberal. Popular Wi-Fi facilities materialize Internet resource in our daily life and they also produce media spectacle in physical installations and social movement.

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