Sunday, June 03, 2007

When free wifi isn't

I swear, I didn't think this was illegal. According to an article on Great Lakes IT Report:
Police in Sparta arrested and charged Sam Peterson for "piggybacking," or using the cafe's Internet service without authorization ... Peterson was arrested for violating a 1979 Michigan law, revised in 2000. He actually faced five years in prison and a $10,000 fine ...
If the guy had gotten out of his car, gone into the cafe and bought a latte, then all would be OK? The cafe owners themselves didn't know this wasn't legal. What if said owners didn't care who used their wifi where or when? (Reading the full article on the WOOD TV8 site, it doesn't appear they objected in this case.) I mean, sure, if they had a parking lot full of internet users who never came in to buy, they'd have cause to be dismayed. I even have to question this guy who apparently came every day, but seemingly never went in and bought even a small black coffee. Not exactly a good neighbor type, I'd say. But still ... should this this really be a matter of law?

Downtown last year as well as here in my own neighborhood, I was able to piggyback on any one of several open networks. In some places, open networks bleed one into another. And it's illegal to access these? When they're right there, freely available, and your computer is practically begging you to choose one and sign on?

I know my view is probably not popular on this, but I think access to the internet should be as open as the internet itself. And while I'm not advocating that a lot of businesses and unassuming neighbors foot the bill for my access entirely (I do subscribe to a service, make no mistake), it's an unavoidable fact that wifi is kinda like air. We breathe what's around us, freely and free. If someplace is providing free wifi to its customers and, unavoidably, those nearby, why should I not partake? I say good for them. And good for you and me, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Michigan a top state for knowledge workers

The Great Lakes IT Report points to Expansion Management magazine's recent ranking of Ann Arbor the "nation's Number One metro area in terms of knowledge workers."

The magazine said its fifth annual Knowledge Worker Quotient Index focuses on the college-educated work force — scientists, engineers, medical doctors, Ph.D.s and others with graduate and postgraduate degrees — who provide the foundation for a knowledge sector economy.

The magazine also ranked Kalamazoo/Portage and Lansing/East Lansing as "five star" areas in this regard. That gives us three metro areas so-rated in the report, putting Michigan in a tie with Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Texas, all with three five-star metros. New York and Californa each have five, while Massachusetts and Colorado have four each. Sixty metro areas were listed in all.

According to the 'zine's KQ report, "These are the communities that will thrive and prosper in the future, and there is one common thread that runs throughout all of them: the presence of one or more major research universities."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Why Twitter is about more than telling you what I'm having for lunch

Stowe Boyd points to this article from USA Today’s Andrew Kantor on the subject of Twitter. I’m struck by Kantor’s willful ignorance of what’s at the core of this social presence app:

Twitter is a bad, bad thing — not just because of what it does, but because of what it says about all of us and our need to be connected. Twitter's whole existence is based on the premise that we aren't yet in touch with one another quite enough.

According to Twitter, you see, we should be in touch every second — every moment. This is madness …

What is madness, I think, is Kantor's oversight of the fact that we already are all connected. It is the nature our world in which everything by design is connected to everything else. It is something our ancient ancestors instinctively knew – and instinctively acted upon, in order to live and continue the species. And, as we’ve gained in knowledge of the world that surrounds us, something we’ve sought after always to understand and express.

We’ve always looked for connection

Speech, songs, stories. Written language that begat books, letters. Printing that sparked the spread of ideas via books and newspapers. And with them the migration of people, both outward across the globe and inward to enclaves of villages, towns, cities. Widespread travel, telegraph, telephone, radio, television – a succession of means for making sense of our center, our connectedness. And then the internet, cellular phones, wireless communication – technology-enabled means for understanding the connections that are.

Don’t you see it? We don't impact the flow that is the universe. These all are just our own small means for tapping it, trying to understand it, living in what already is and always has been.

I’ve been watching a lot of old movies lately – those made in the 30s, 40s and 50s where making a long-distance call was worth a raised eyebrow, a second thought, even among those with means. Even I remember when long distance was reserved for Grandma, and only on a Sunday, when the rates were cheaper, and you hadn’t just seen her the weekend before.

But what is long distance today? A rarer and rarer consideration as I call my friend who is 600 miles away at any time of the day or night. And I fully expect that soon it won’t matter if I’m using “anytime minutes” or not. It certainly shouldn’t. It’s a primitive, holdover construct from what’s fast becoming history.

These are the people we live with

Critics of connection enablers like Twitter seem short-sighted to me. Twitter is just one in a succession of acknowledgements of the connectedness of the universe and everything in it. Of the flow that creates and sustains us all. A claiming of our own existence within that flow.

Overblown? Maybe, with regard to Twitter per se. But just ask yourself: What can you learn and know of the world and your fellow humans from even a short time spent with Twittervision (see how it’s evolving already)? That someone has too many choices for lunch (which is some kind of learning in itself)? Sure. But you can also see there’s an ice storm raging in Northern Europe. That it’s tomorrow in Australia. That someone in Italy, right now, is listening to an American rock song. That many many people speak in languages you don’t understand. That there is life beyond your street that you’ve otherwise had little glimpse of before now, that it’s always been there and it continues, whether you’re asleep, awake, indifferent.

These are the people we live with on this earth, and what they do and think and feel has effects beyond you, and vice versa. Yes, these are early adopters, yes they’re technology-enabled themselves, while most of the world isn’t yet. But the implications are further reaching than we can probably imagine right now. And it’s only the smallest beginning.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Nationwide antiwar protest comes to GR

Damn. I missed it. From today's Press:
Protest arrives at Ehlers' door

GRAND RAPIDS -- As peace protests go, this one had everything: young and old calling for the end of the Iraq War; a rally outside of a U.S. congressman's house, with signs -- some vulgar -- planted in his yard, calling him a war criminal; and arrests of four people, including a university professor who brought his 11-year-old daughter.

Demonstrators on Saturday took part in a nationwide protest to highlight the war's fourth anniversary ...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Weekend links

What I'm reading this weekend:

Jim Rinck announces his candidacy for Grand Rapids Mayor reports Democratic Edge.

"I'm in," announces Hillary Rodham Clinton. "...I want you to join me not just for the campaign but for a conversation about the future of our country -- about the bold but practical changes we need to overcome six years of Bush administration failures."

Art Buchwald Inaugurates NY Video Obits I didn't watch the video, but paidContent reports that it begins, "Hello, I'm Art Buchwald and I just died." Interesting. And the Times reportedly has several more video obits in the can.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weekend links

What I've been reading this weekend ...

No to Escalation. Congress can stop this, and there is precedent, as The Nation's editors point out. "Ratcheting up the pressure on Congress is urgent. Blocking the escalation is the first step toward bringing the troops home."

Saddam Cell Video Subverts News Packages. Writes Mark Glaser at MediaShift:
Having a more direct view of the Saddam hanging might give us a clearer, truer picture of the event, but it also is partially responsible for the death of at least seven children who hung themselves in copycat hangings. As the filtering power of the MSM lessens, the parental and personal filters of all of us must be strengthened. More than ever, we need to have better media literacy, know what is out there for us to see, and choose wisely in what we see and what conclusions we make.
random notes on blogging, from Hugh McCleod at gaping void: "Blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly. I say that all the time, and will KEEP saying it till people finally get it [I’m not holding my breath]." The cartoon heading up the post is so true, too.

My dilemma with MichLib Local

The advent of Michlib Local has given me pause. Don't get me wrong -- it's a great idea to have diaries on MichiganLiberal categorized by county, city and township. In time it should become the place to go to read all of what's going on in any one jurisdiction. It could become one place we've all been wanting -- and needing -- to go to read the important information, news and viewpoints of those writing about their particular areas.

But Michlib Local makes me wonder what to do with this blog. I mean, why post here, when I can post there and add to the collective? What is the sense of continually crossposting at Coit Avenue and Michigan Liberal? Doesn't it make more sense to post at Michlib Local, where others can chime in, and where my information is added to the aggregate of stuff (even if the chorus only numbers 4 or 5) from my area?

When I first saw Matt's post, I thought, this is great! I can contribute posts to MichLib on local information and not have them "lost" among the many. And it seems to me that an aggregation of information and viewpoints from, say, Kent County, can give a more complete idea of the state of things here. Our "collective intelligence" becomes a rich resource and even can be an impetus to action.

Maybe I'm overthinking this. Maybe my situation is unique. I have two blogs: The more long-lived Things I've Seen is more of a friends and family thing, while Coit has leaned toward political commentary. Things I've Seen has also been the place where I've commented on life, media, communications, technology, and anything internet. When I began Coit, I started putting that kind of commentary there, until the governor's race heated up and I began to devote the bulk of my posting to it.

Now that MichLib Local has been introduced, I don't see much sense in continuing this particular local political blog. I'll never be the incisive political pundit that so many of the MichLib bloggers are, and I've been pretty lax on that front lately (mostly because I went to work full time in Sept.) Seems to me it makes more sense to shutter Coit Avenue, move all my blogging back to Things I've Seen, and post what little bit of local political fodder I do have to diaries tagged for MichLib Local.

But I really can't decide. Anybody else have any thoughts?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Weekend links

What I've been reading over the weekend:

  • Media Mouse also thoroughly probes CD03 Rep. Vern Ehlers's record to tell a more complete story behind the recent GR Press article, "Ehlers voices second thoughts on war":
    "... the way in which the article ends is misleading and portrays Ehlers as a reluctant supporter of the war when in fact he supported it early on and has continued to support the war by voting for every military spending bill. Ehlers has also refused to support a timetable for the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq and voted in support of the Military Commissions Act of 2006."
  • "The Dumbness of Crowds" explores how New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki's "Wisdom of the Crowds" idea (his book has the same name) sometimes gets twisted. The Crowd is ... "a collection of individuals," says Kathy Sierra, "Individuals whose independent knowledge (and "independent" is a key word in what makes the crowd "smart") is aggregated in some way, not smushed into one amorphous Consensus Result." It is "collective intelligence."

    The idea of "Crowds" in this context "... was never meant to mean 'mobs,' 'groups acting as one,' 'committees,' 'consensus' or even 'high collaboration.'" A good example of the difference:

"Collective Intelligence" is about getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough. (It's not always the averaging that's the problem it's the blindly part)