Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Collaborative technologies v. collective will

What If They Built A Muni Wi-Fi Network And No One Came?

"When not designed with some specific purpose in mind and not well advertised or understood, [municipal Wi-Fi networks are] not being used. Furthermore, the technology involved is looking like it may be a mistake. Despite continued efforts to turn Wi-Fi into a wider-area technology using mesh technologies, Wi-Fi was and is a local wireless technology. It's also an evolving one. Many of these muni-Wi-Fi efforts are quite ambitious and won't be completed for some time, at which point there will be many other options out there for wireless technologies, and the municipal offering may seem quite out of date. This isn't to say that it should never be done. However, cities that are rushing to go Wi-Fi just because it's the hot thing need to think past the momentary publicity boost to figure out what the real goals are for a municipal Wi-Fi project, and whether or not it really makes sense at this time with this technology."

Nice to see someone point out that just because we can do it doesn't mean we should. And this reminds me of another dodgy assumption: that technology can or will create a commons. I've done my fair share of consulting work that very quickly demonstrated that no collaborative technology can work where there is no collective will.

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