One of the things I thank we are going to see become more common are a new form of private network I dubbed subnets. We know they already exist and are commonly used for gaming between relatively close neighbors among many other purposes. This is commonly done with off-the-shelf WiFi equipment as a means of setting up a network that can be used for whatever purposes these groups of people choose.

This becomes particularly interesting as more creative uses get applied. While everyone who hasn’t spent the last five years in a cave knows that file sharing is illegal it is perfectly legal for me to share a music CD or a movie DVD with friend or relative. It is also legal for me to make a backup copy of either of those works and I can save that copy in any format I choose. If you apply that line of reasoning to a private network there is every assurance that we could legally loan any member of this group of friends each other’s copyrighted works at will. As your the network is only populated by friends and relatives my neighbor can join, his brother can become a friend of mine, and his best friend can become introduced to the group.

What we are going to see are these private “subnets” start popping up which are really little, tiny parallel Internets of their own. As these “clubs” grow bigger and more of them come into creation the “traditional” Internet become less of the focus as most of the content you look for mat be available independent of the net. Of course, individual members could cross over to the mainstream Internet whenever they wished and as long as the private network was not open to the public Internet I think it would remain in the realm of legal.

Let’s take a look at what might happen if this trend becomes not only popular but also flourishes. If we were to look at a metropolitan area where it could be very likely that hundreds (if not thousands) of these independent subnets exist, what happens when someone starts to keep a record of them all, kind of like a cross between a subnet dating service and DNS? Could a metropolitan subnet be created that would still comply with existing regulations making several of the services that people are looking for legal to be accessed? As long as we’re all friends, right? Well, what happens when we now purchase transport to the next city’s metropolitan’s subnet and introduce the two? Are they still friends? Is this still legal – even if we are really only skirting the law?

If we extrapolate this concept out to it’s logical conclusion we might have the roadmap to a parallel Internet, one from from oversight by either the ILECs or the government – to a lesser degree.

What fascinates me about this is the fact that the harder you try to squeeze restrictions on to the Internet the end effect is that it is kind of like squishing Jello.

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