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Austin gets meshed

David Nunez
David Nunez
1 min read

I predicted something in 2003 that finally tipped.

Evangelizing Wifi in Austin

In that article, I said that coffee shops having WiFi would also have a competitive advantage on their dark, wifiless competitors.

That is, they would have an advantage until ubiquitous wifi became a reality. That has started to happen.

Today, the City of Austin announced the launch of its Downtown wi-fi network. Now, anywhere in the 6th street / Town Lake corridor (which hosts many meeting venues – some, previously wi-fied, many not), you can get online, for free.

This means, I should be able to pull out my laptop during any meeting in this area and connect.

There are plans to expand this into the East side and other ares of town as early as this summer.

I’d like to know more about who will be responsible for the uptime and expansion of this program past the few-year beta/novelty period.

I do not know what the city will do with the usage statistics.

Tread carefully: this is like the wild west – use precautions when connected wirelessly and assume people will be listening in on everything you do.

  • What kind of gameplay and experimentation on this infrastructure (a la phreaking) is possible, now?

  • How does broad connectivity that is possibly geography-aware affect pedestrian behavior / interaction / learning / enjoyment?

  • Experiment: when you drive down six street, do you stay on the same SSID through the whole experience? What happens to your connection integrity as you move? (i.e. are there grey spots on the map? Do you seemlessly connect among access points).

    • My gut tells me that this kind of network is designed for stationary users (i.e. sitting at a cafe or at a kiosk)
  • What art experiments could be created by connected kiosks, drive-by art vans, etc?

  • How can downtown events change wrt anywhere-connectivity?


David Nunez Twitter

Dir of Technology at the MIT Museum • Writing about emerging tech's impact on your life • Speculative insights on the intersection of humanity and technology 🤖


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