Popup Networks: Creating Decentralized Social Media on Top of Commodity Wireless Routers

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Association for Computing Machinery
Recent news has made social media notorious for both abusing user data and allowing governments to scrutinize personal information. Nevertheless, people still enjoy connecting with friends and families through social media but fail to use it to connect to local communities where we live our daily lives. In this paper, we present Popup Networks, a new platform for building hyper-local social computing applications, running on home wireless routers via an underlying mesh network. Summative interviews illustrate interests in using Popup Networks to create new local ties and as a backup in the case of Internet disruption. By utilizing locality to ward off external risks, Popup Networks provide alternative privacy, visibility, and economic models compared to traditional social media. While deploying Popup Networks would be an ideal evaluation, we argue that the technical tests and user interviews we conducted are suitable for socially complex systems such as Popup Networks--advocating an agenda moving forward for social computing systems research.