Fluid Nexus
mobile messaging without the mobile phone network

Concept

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, networks continue to be defined by their stable topology represented in an image or graph. Peer-to-peer technologies promised new arrangements absent centralized control, but they still rely on stationary devices. Mobile phones remain wedded to conventional network providers.

Instead, the combination of peer-to-peer with mobility enables a new concept of an information transfer infrastructure that relies on fluid, temporary, ad-hoc networks. People and devices are at once implicated as mobile nodes in this network (known in computer science as a sneakernet).

Fluid Nexus is a demonstration of how one might design software to bypass Internet intermediaries' control over the identification and circulation of messages. It is a piece of interrogative software art, of a piece with other attempts to rework network topology such as the Eternal Network used by mail artists or projects such as Dead Swap or netless. We draw partial inspiration from the potential activist re-purposing of digital technologies without being subsumed by the same goals.

While Fluid Nexus is designed for non-Internet-based communications, we have also developed the Nexus, a space on this site for "public" messages to be automatically uploaded by any Fluid Nexus user. The Nexus includes text, audio, images, and video capabilities, and the original sender has control whether the message will become public or not. The Nexus extends the reach of the Fluid Nexus non-network beyond those using the software on their phone or laptop/desktop.

For more information on Fluid Nexus, see the paper "Transnetworks and the Fluid Nexus Project", forthcoming in Fall 2011 in the proceedings of dis/connecting/media 2009.

Articles of Interest

Eternal Network: A Mail Art Anthology

Stewart Home, "Mail Art", in The Assault on Culture

"U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors"

"Humans Are The Routers"

"New project enables mobile phone use in areas with no reception"

"New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20 summit"