Sharing stories through local network tools

Sharing stories between phones can be a challenge, particularly where internet or cell phone access is limited or expensive. One approach is to use low-cost, battery powered hubs that allow WiFi sharing, taking a local, “do it yourself’ (DIY) approach to computer networking, setting up local tools without needing to rely on the internet or cell phone companies. This can be used where it is difficult to access commercial services. A popular option for exploring small scale DIY networking is the Raspberry Pi computer (https://www.raspberrypi.org/) . These are relatively cheap (approximately 50GBP), can be portable, and will run from a battery powerbank used to charge mobile phones, not needing mains electricity.

Smartphones have a setting that allows them to connect to WiFi devices, and so they allow users to copy their photos and videos to these hubs, where others can see them and download them onto their own phones. ARCLIGHT used Raspberry Pi computers, running the MAZI software tools (http://www.mazizone.eu), that enable easy sharing of stories and other digital resources, and supports discussion. We call the combination of the technical equipment and this way of working a “MAZIzone”.

Using MAZIzones, and building a way of sharing community-created digital stories in a local neighbourhood, ARCLIGHT's strategy is to facilitate communication that is socially and culturally appropriate. The ARCLIGHT approach encourages community members to control the tools of communication directly. Such communications, however, must be combined with reinforcing activities that encourage the more widespread adoption of positive practices so as to build collective mental health resilience.

Permanently installing MAZIzones within communities allows community members to share and ‘remember’ stories of local resilience isolated from the distraction and potential harmful exposure to online content. This can be a catalysing mechanism for long-term learning and resilience building in a way that is community-led and owned.

MAZI was developed in a European Union funded project, and is one of many choices for running DIY networking software on Raspberry Pi computers. Another approaches are DietPi (https://dietpi.com/) which runs on a variety of low cost computers, 

Last modified: Tuesday, 2 Mar 2021, 11:44