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Wade’s Wave of Wirelessness

I really enjoy reading Wade Roush’s blog, and I enjoy even more our infrequent conversations. I don’t pretend to be more knowledgable about technology than Wade, but I do find that we tend to butt heads (in a friendly manner)…
June 14, 2005

I really enjoy reading Wade Roush’s blog, and I enjoy even more our infrequent conversations. I don’t pretend to be more knowledgable about technology than Wade, but I do find that we tend to butt heads (in a friendly manner) when it comes to the impact of technology on our culture.

Some of that, though, is because my roots are firmly entrenched in Appalachia and I can’t help but see the world not through the promise of what is coming, but the failure of what hasn’t transpired.

Our disconnect came up for me again this weekend while I was back in Cincinnati. I was reading one of his posts, The Gathering Wave of Wirelessness, and found myself thinking, once again, about a phenomenon that I don’t see first hand very often.

Many tech cultural observers believe that wireless connectivity is the Next Big Thing. It’s not going out a limb to say so. But I’m not so sure that it will be as rapid, and transformative, as people believe – at least not in the next ten years.

Here’s why:

This is a list of the most unwired cities in the U.S. printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati comes in at 43 (up from 49 a year ago, I believe). Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my hometown, and finding a wireless hotspot isn’t easy.

There is one at the bottom of my girlfriend’s street – which happens to be in one of the more affluent suburbs of Cincinnati. Other than that, though, I’m hard pressed to find any connectivity without getting in my car and searching…and searching.

And that’s the 43rd most unwired city in the U.S.

Now, I’ve lived in the 2nd most unwired city (SF), I own a home in the 3rd most unwired city (Austin), and I currently live in the 13th most unwired city (Boston), so maybe I have been spoiled.

Even with that, though, I can tell you there is a major drop between Austin/SF and Boston. I think we’re a long way away from a transformative age, where the untethered computer becomes a staple of life.

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