Alternative Internets

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= concept and blog series


"What are “alternative internet(s)”?

  • Community wireless networks: built with grassroots, flexible network architecture, providing an alternative ownership structure, free access to the Internet, opportunities for community building and participatory design, and the option for local interactions outside the commercial Internet;
  • Peer-to-peer systems and encryption that enable the distributed implementation of otherwise centralized services like searching, storage, content distribution, and accounting and have formed the basis for very successful applications such as BitTorrent for file sharing, Bitcoin for online currencies, and many more;
  • Distributed web-based social networks, such as Diaspora and Kune, which allow Internet users to build their own online social networks and organise them according to their individual preferences in terms of privacy and filtering.

Alternative internet(s): ‘media policy by other means’?" (

The series:

"The series will cover a wide range of enabling technologies:

Alternatives can help to avoid self-censorship and allow us to express ourselves in the public sphere without fear of algorithmic control and surveillance. However, there are many important decisions to be made, which are subject to a series of trade-offs, ambiguities and contradictions, thus calling for an interdisciplinary treatment. Our goal is to open the dialogue and bring together different perspectives, keeping in mind the need for immediate action; the need for experimenting with alternatives and complements at the technological, social, economic and political level.

That is why this series will call on a wide range of analytic and interdisciplinary perspectives, including:

  • Computer science/networking design and architectural choices of alternative platforms and architectures, centralised and decentralised options and their techno-legal consequences:
  • The socio-economic impact at the local level, the creation of international communities of practices, the political implications on speech of autonomous platforms and applications, the sustainability of commons-based peer production and the governance of self-organized communities;
  • The reflexive effect on media policies, competition law and telecommunication regulation of developing alternative, independent platforms and simultaneously using them to propose alternative political and technical regulation of the networks.


The project has been supported by the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) Interdisciplinary Programme on Communication Sciences and part of the project Alternet on Alternative architectures of the internet : risks of network (de)centralisation. Additional support is provided by the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE, the CNRS Institute for Communication Science (ISCC), Paris Sorbonne-Universités, the French National Agency for Research within the frame of the Adam project, and the European Network of Excellence in Internet Science." (