Connectivity basic need now
For me as travelling consultant, but also as a private citizen, having ubiquitous access to my on-line material is crucial. It is my premier gateway to my social networks as well as my work. When during the move last month we were thrown back to using a 52k dial-in phoneline for a week I felt both blind, deaf and mute. I’d say more than 80% of my working as well as social life uses internet-channels at some point.
So when I got wifi at home, I also put up an open access point for others to enjoy. So when I am in hotels and conference venues I am irritated by the ridiculous pricing schemes they have for using wifi services. So e-mail gets send to my phone. So I want free wifi, or flat fee wifi, worldwide. Early October last year I came across Martin Varsavsky’s call for people to help him get FON going, and of course I was already aware of what others are doing, and am privvy to some intriguing projects of some of my IFCCC colleagues over at F11.
Basically FON is a network of private wifi routers with modified software (only for some LinkSys routers at the moment), that you connect to your own broadband connection at home. Other members of the network, or paying guests, are given (pw protected) access to your wifi router as long as you’re not using your bandwith yourself. If you open up your router to FON, you get access to all FON routers everywhere. FON seems to have gotten support from Google, Skype and Sequioa, and also collaboration with the good guys from Plazes.com has been announced.
Information Landscape and Geographical Landscape
The latter is interesting to me. Because it connects the information landscape and the geographical landscape much more intimately. And I need that, and you need it too. I still have friends that give me strange looks when I describe my usage of internet tools. For them the internet is a one-way oriented information source, not a two-way place of exchange. For them cyberspace is different from their regular surroundings, and for me both form the world I live in. I simply can’t afford to treat them as seperate any longer, as I could in 1989 when I first got on-line on a daily basis.
Infoscape is Faster but Catalyst for Geoscape
In geographical space I meet people face to face, have drinks, which is great. But my mobility there is limited and time-constrained, slow, and resource-intensive. On the net, I don’t meet people face to face but through digitally mediated channels. But there my mobility is global and instantaneous, and the speed of interaction and change matches much more closely the speed I need to be able to do all the stuff I find relevant. Through the net I arrange the face to face meetings, through the net I decide where to spend my limited time and resources for geographical mobility. Which in the end actually increases my geographical mobility (I would not have started BlogWalk or visited geeky conferences abroad otherwise for instance, or for instance got to entertain Qumana’s Jon Husband from Canada at our home).
That also means that when I am on the road (the hard surfaced ones in the geographical landscape) I don’t want to be cut off from my information landscape in the net. I want to immediately share pictures, get and share info and opinions about the restaurant I am standing in front of wondering whether to have lunch there, be aware of the presence of others geographically nearby for possible chance encounters. In other words to be able to leave as well as pick up many traces that lead to emergent patterns relevant to the geographical spot I happen to be in.
Can we do more?
Opening up a wifi accespoint at my geographic location is a small step I can do to help bring the information landscape and geographical landscape closer together. Whether it’s FON or not is irrelevant. Letting others crash is another. Dutifully catalogueing every location you access the net from yet another.
Do you agree that combining the information landscape and geographical landscape is a necessity for you as it is for me? If so, what steps would you take, or have you taken to help combine the two more closely and permanently? Could we do more? What small steps are available to us as opportunities?