mesh networks are another way of networking. they provide a peer to peer network to move information around, more like a social network where you talk to your friends and they talk to their friends and shortly everyone knows everyone else's business.
the current information distribution model is more like a billboard, where i can post on the billboard and you can read from it, but i can't talk directly to you.
to me, this means that the current model is more capitalist, insofar as somebody must own the billboard, and mesh networks are- for the lack of a better term- socialist.
of course, there are other advantages to the mesh network concept, aside from them being immune to central control. they are robust, efficient, and could seemingly provide ridiculously high transfer rates.
the idea is pretty simple. instead of having dedicated service devices and dedicated customer devices like the current model, every device is both a customer and a service provider. so, my device can talk directly to your device instead of going through a mediator. or, if my friend's device wants to talk to your device, my device can serve as the intermediary.
now, if every device in an office had this ability to talk device to device and retransmit messages between devices- every cellphone, computer, mp3 player, printer talking to every other device- you wouldn't need an office network anymore, would you?
well, what if every device in the world had this ability? now you only need a network for long range communication between populated areas.
that is the theoretical ability of mesh networks, to provide a virtually uninterruptable communication system to replace traditional information transmitters like phone companies, cable tv networks, internet service providers, cell phone companies.
it is a kind of old idea at this point and seems to be having trouble getting a foothold at the consumer device scale at least partially because the companies that have the ability to produce the tech are the ones that have the most to lose from its adoption.
google have a lot to gain from more people being lost in the internets. they have expressed interest in some of the resources necessary to push the tech forward, they are pretty subversive guys, and they recently supported the Meraki mesh network in San Fran, providing ad-based internets to many SF neighborhoods.