Glenn Fleishman's "The Killer App of 1900" draws striking parallels between the present-day debate over the necessity of Internet access and the early 20th century debate over the necessity of electricity. In the early days of electrification, electricity was a luxury, providing lights to a few people who chose electric over gas. The idea that electricity was a necessity (let alone a right
) was widely held to be absurd. But because of the many applications for electric power, electrification quickly grew to be central in most Americans' lives, and many electrification projects were ultimately taken on by governments, from the local to the national (FDR's Rural Electrification Act).
Undoubtedly, you see where I've been going with all this. Broadband in 2009 is electricity in 1900. We may think we know all the means to which high-speed Internet access may be put, but we clearly do not: YouTube and Twitter prove that new things are constantly on the way and will emerge as bandwidth and access continues to increase.
The Killer App of 1900
Like electricity, the notion of whether broadband is an inherent right and necessity of every citizen is up for grabs in the US. Sweden and Finland have already answered the question: It's a birthright. Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and many European countries aren't far behind in having created the right regulatory and market conditions to bring better and affordable broadband to a greater percentage of its citizens than in the US.
In Seattle, we'll see how Mayor-Elect McGinn proceeds with a broadband plan cooked up under his predecessor (where it languished) that would let anyone in Seattle ask for and receive a fiber-optic hookup for Internet, TV, and voice at competitive rates to today's slower and funkier cable and DSL services. (As I said in today's Morning Fizz, I'm encouraged that McGinn has kept Nickels' technology guy, Bill Schrier (the guy who came up with the plan), on board.)
(Image: File:TVA water supply Wilder.gif, Wikimedia Commons)
The public bathroom at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park now has a toilet paper dispenser outfitted with a camera and facial recognition technology to prevent toilet paper theft. From the New York Times: Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a […]
Poking a golden tortoise beetle (“goldbug”) triggers the insect’s color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News: “In nature, networks of […]
MNTNT’s Albert Clock is a clock that presents the hours and minutes as simple math problems. Is it annoying or engaging? Or…. both! In standard mode, the queries change every minute. They are completely random, so even the query for the hours change, even if the result stays the same. You can speed up this […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]
Custom coffee vessels are the perfect piece of office flair, but it’s just a matter of time before your VOTE FOR PEDRO mug will start to lose its relevant wit. Why not have a new one every day, with whatever silly nonsense you want sticking off the sides? You can save big on your novelty […]