coit avenue
Stuff that's mostly Michigan. From a writer with blogs on the side.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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 ...

  • 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.