Nowadays, online communication and virtual communities are increasingly important and often tend to substitute for “real” offline contacts among people. In such a scenario, trying to maintain a human, local dimension within virtual relationships could seem a utopian and unrealistic task.
The objective of the MAZI project is not to replace the Internet, but to complement it with local networks to support interactions that are meant to really be local. In fact, only a local community composed of individuals that are aware of the needs and necessities of their reality can help in facing specific contextualized situations.
In Greek, MAZI means “together”, and this is the keyword, meaning, and final objective of the project: to build local community networks, together with networks of people who already share common interests and challenges. The MAZI idea arose during the Internet Science Network of Excellence Summer School (2012) where some partners had the chance to meet each other. On that occasion, the attendees built up a community network and decided to write a proposal on this topic.
At the moment, the consortium is a very interdisciplinary one: this means that the partners have the same objectives but, at the same time, they speak different languages. Interacting through the toolkit as the project's boundary object and finding a common vocabulary is surely a challenge, but this multivocality is the only real possibility for staying “together.”
Description of the outcome
Supporting local community wireless networksworks
The MAZI toolkit consists in a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) networking system that can both improve Internet connectivity in a specific region and support local interactions and services. The various networks (called MAZI Zones) are created, deployed and maintained by local communities and address specific local, or more generally shared, interests and needs. The MAZI Zones are different in their characteristics, so that someone could be 24/7 connected to their MAZI Zone and use the provided local applications for his/her needs (collaborative editing, file sharing, video streaming, environmental measurements monitoring etc.) and at the same time be connected to the Internet. On the other hand a MAZI Zone could be in offline mode offering just the MAZI (local) services to people in the physical proximity to foster collective awareness, social cohesion, and conviviality.
What you need to use it
Users can built their own MAZI Zone complete with configurable software applications. Some low-cost DIY hardware will be needed, plus downloadable resources from the MAZI Toolkit page. Full details and instructions for building, deploying and maintaining the MAZI zone are included in the guidelines provided at the toolkit page mentioned earlier.
In detail, for a simple version of a MAZI Zone, a Raspberry pi and a microSD card are enough in terms of hardware. Regarding the software, everything is provided in the ready-made MAZI toolkit image files which can be downloaded from the toolkit page. For a more advanced MAZI Zone users can add extra hardware, such as a USB battery for portable usage, or an extra USB Wi-Fi adapter for Internet connection, or even input devices (sensor modules, cameras, etc.).
Through the analytical guidelines provided by MAZI project anyone can learn more about social networks and DIY networking. In addition, some tips for proper installation are provided together with advice on the proper deployment and engagement of people.
Interested people can stay updated to the latest versions released every now and then by the project and take advantage of new features by using the one-click update functionality provided through the MAZI software.
- Guide for users: http://www.mazizone.eu/toolkit_guidelines/
Do you want to contribute?
The MAZI toolkit is in the middle of its development process and anyone can contribute by writing code or reporting issues and bugs. Open-source repositories are available online, enabling the active participation of local communities in the development of code or the generation of guidelines. External feedback for the MAZI User Interfaces as well as for the overall deployment and configuration process is extremely helpful for the development team’s goal of properly prototyping the toolkit.
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