This iPhone "tethering app" mentioned on Mac Rumors is great to hear about.

The $9.99 application promises to allow you to share your iPhone's network connection with your computer.

Share your iPhone's EDGE or 3G Internet connection with your computer using NetShare. NetShare provides a SOCKS5 proxy for your computer to connect to.

Here's the upshot -- now it would appear that someone could write an application to share out your 3G network connection to anyone in wifi range... who could then share that connection to anyone in wifi range, ad infinitum. Instant mesh network.

With smart, connect when needed networking, one day we could see alternatives to the monolithic Internet. With the corporate incursions into the idea of "Web 2.0", it's going to be a Very Good Thing to have offline alternatives. If iPhones (and iPod touches, and your old Linux laptop, etc, etc, but starting with a good, increasingly ubiquitous, mobile nodes to the Internet proper like the iPhone) could be made to be nodes on that network, we'd be in business.

Of course I realize that the iPhone has some serious issues running applications, the biggest here being that it won't, without some finagling, run apps in the background. Battery concerns are also dealbreakers.