This is a great story by Kim Zetter about creativity and how it can come from the grassroots, not just from corporations with R&D budgets or Universities with trained research scientists:

Ben Corrado, Andy Meng, Justin Rigling and a fourth friend, Brandon Schamer (who didn’t accompany them from Ohio), won the greatest distance achieved for an 802.11b network. The teens, two of them 18 years old and the other 19 years old, achieved 55.1 miles using homebrewed antennas on both ends along with amplification, exceeding last year’s winner by 20 miles. Then, when they established that record, they turned off their amplifiers and broke the record for an unamplified connection at the same distance.

How are we going to harness this creativity, and not squelch it with rules, regulations and disregard? One organization that’s trying to take advantage of this kind of incredible, brilliant stuff is the Hacker Foundation. The Hacker Foundation helps people like these wi-fi geniuses with all the paperwork, funding, organizing and the like that they might need if they, say, wanted to deploy this network in a place like Afghanistan or rural Tennessee.