Monday, February 14, 2005

The Spec doesn't read Reason.

From today's front page Spectator article: "Surfing From the Street."
This month, the New York City Department of Information Technology and
Telecommunications will take the next step in its plan to create a complete
citywide mobile wireless communications network. The department will grant
contracts to at least one company to test strategies to bring wireless radio,
more commonly known as Wi-Fi, to the city.

To set up the network, the city will have to lease areas for nearly 20,000
signal emitters, potentially including light poles and traffic signs. Once the
system is installed, the city could end up turning a profit by selling
subscriptions to users.A group of New Yorkers opposed to the new network dread
the addition of thousands of antennae to the city.The system will likely not
affect current Columbia students, as the project will take close to ten years to
complete.

The system will, among other things, eliminate the need for many of the
leased wires that operate traffic signals in the city. The system plans to take
advantage of Wi-Fi “mesh” technology which should fight the problem of
projecting a signal in the urban canyons of downtown. Estimates have put the
cost of the project at as much as $1 billion.
Clearly, the author had not read Tim Cavanaugh's piece, "Why ask Wi," in Reason.
We will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless
internet service," the 37-year-old Democrat declared.

But some believers in sensible governance or reliable technology might
hope they can be stopped. With the rapid expansion of wireless broadband
protocols—802.11(b) anyone? How about (g), or (n)? And what of WiMax?—it's
unclear how the city can put up a network that won't be obsolete in six months.
And WiFi, despite its intriguing name, doesn't really come out of the air: It
communicates old-fashioned internet connections at very limited ranges...

"Some of these experiments aren't bad, and shouldn't necessarily be
dismissed," says Tom Hazlett, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. "The
problem is that city regulators keep out the real networks people are trying to
build, by holding up rights of access."
No news here unfortunately.

3 comments:

Anarcho Capitalist in Lerner said...

Techonocrats are for the future, but only if someone is in charge of making it turn out according to plan. They greet every new idea with a "yes, but" followed by legislation, regulation, and litigation. They get very nervous at the suggesion that the future might develop spontaneously. It is, they assume, too important and too dangerous to be left to undirected evolution.

--The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress

by Virginia Postrel
pub: The Free Press 1998

Anonymous said...

Techonocrats are for the future, but only if someone is in charge of making it turn out according to plan. They greet every new idea with a "yes,but" followed by legislation, regulation, and litigation. They get very nervous at the suggesion that the future might develop spontaneously. It is, they assume, too important and too dangerous to be left to undirected evolution.

--The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Pro

Anonymous said...

Virginia Postrel's book is great.
She quotes Arthur Schlesinger qua-a-a-k-k-k-ing in his boots every time he envisions the "onrush of capitalism" via new technology.

Here's Schlesinger: "The computer turns the untrammeled market into a global juggernaut crashing across frontiers, enfeebling national powers of taxation and regulation, undercutting national management of interest rates and exchange rates, widening disparities of wealth both within and between nations, dragging down labor standards, denying nations the shaping of their own economic destiny, accountable to no one, creating a world economy without a world polity."

By which Schlessinger means THE INDIVIDUALS ARE COMING! THE INDIVIDUALS ARE COMING! BOLT THE WINDOWS! BAR THE DOORS! HIDE UNDER YOUR BEDS! EEEAAAAGGGH !