18 June 2008

A wireless world

Right now I am sitting outside of Panera, sipping green tea and working on my online course. I think it's pretty cool that I am able to work without being in the office, especially on a nice morning like this one. The heat has abated a little bit; the high today is only supposed to be 85 or so. Now there is a nice breeze and it is 70ish.

Panera is also apparently a Winthrop hangout. I've seen two other faculty members since I have been here.

I just think it is cool that I am able to do this; to come to a cafe (even a chain) to get my work done. My internet course has been pretty frustrating so far, with lots of technical issues form my students. But an advantage is I can "teach" from anywhere that has internet access. As I was brainstorming where I should go this morning, I realized that Rock Hill is actually set up nicely on this front. All of downtown has free wireless. The big new park and soccer complex, Manchaester Meadows, does as well. So does Glencarin Gardens. Panera has free access and so does Mcallister's Deli, I think. Winthrop is partially covered, but there are pretty big dead spots. And the reason I didn't stay at Winthrop and go outside to work is there aren't really any outside tables. That will hopefully be rectified when the new student center gets built. The spec drawings, at least, have lots of tables outside.

South Carolina has the opportunity to become a free wireless state, but there is considerable consternation in the legislature about the hows and whys and whethers. I don't know enough to get into all the tech and policy aspects of it, but it seems to rest on the question of whether internet access is a public good. Is it something that will benefit everyone to the extent that everyone deserves access and shares the associated costs (like, say, radio)? Ideologically, I would answer yes to that question, realizing that there are still technical issues to wrestle with. Given the recent trend toward the privatization of everything, especially in my conservative state that seems to be the duly designated colony of lots of far-right groups (external groups forcing the voucher issue and various religious groups), I am not optimistic about the possibility of wireless as a public utility. But I can still enjoy my wireless office this morning.

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