Slides from a recent Seattle MindCamp session at which I co-presented my "Libraries Everywhere" concept with Jen Batten, of

Slide One (Title Page)
Libraries Everywhere
Internet for the Masses

Slide Two (Problem)

  • Socio-economic disequilibrium, worldwide
  • Rich getting richer, poor poorer
  • Information and access controlled by the elite, perpetuates inequlity

Slide Three (Librarians are Hot)
They're also the guardians of democracy!

Slide Four (Proposed Solution)

  • Libraries Everywhere
    • Internet as “Library”
    • Democratizes Information
    • Tax-supported or “subsidized” connectivity
    • Many library systems (viz, King County, WA) already offer free wireless Internet onsite.
    • Extends the Carnegie concept of affording ready access to information by the masses.
  • WiFi, WiMax, or landline
  • Inexpensive
    • Low cost infrastructure piggybacks on existing (KCLS ISP, Crossroads Mall, light posts, munincipal loops)
    • $80k initial cost for all of Redmond and ~$10k/year maintenance
    • Continuous education is less expensive than than formal education and re-education programs.
    • 5 years ago, $200 for a PCMCIA card, which today can be had for free

Slide Five (Arguments Against)

  • Puts ISPs out of business
    • Rebuttal: BS! Dale Carnegie and KCLS haven’t kept Amazon and Barnes and Noble from selling books.
  • “Ghetto” users will use it for porn and gambling
    • Rebuttal: True! And so will the “upper crust”. Equal access is nevertheless attained.
    • Mitigation: Librarians control immutable homepage
  • Ubiquitous Internet Access Will Hurt My Business 
    • Loiterering (e.g. Victor’s Coffee in Redmond)
    • Rebuttal: 3G is coming and Internet loiterers along with it, no matter what
  • Bandwidth-limiting over usage will hurt everyone
    • Yes, unless we mitigate. Open access to businesses and individuals is critical.
    • Rebuttal: upload/download limits are constitutional

Slide Six (Post-Presentation Notes)

  • Contributors: Stuart Maxwell, Doug Dobbins, Matt Westervelt, Rob Flickenger, Liz Lawley, Jen Batten, Richard Lotz,
  • Chicken and Egg – this will please the elite but not really diminish the Digital Divide (Liz) – Tax Dollars are scarce. Libraries are closing nationwide (CA). Make sure that some of the dollars go into training and other.
    • Counter-argument: we won’t know until we do it!
    • Rebuttal: ‘don’t build schools before you have teachers to fill them’,reduces transaction cost and saves poor people money (cuts out the check cashing businesses)
  • Need to demonstrate civic engagement benefits
  • Outside the US: India, Africa…success stories
  • Children won’t get primary access to computers in households. Teachers must be taught how to teach children in schools.
  • Need auxiliary resources for educational programs
  • Opportunity for Collaboration with Emergency Services (Doug Dobbins) – Fed. Grants
  • What is our measure of success? Do we need broad consensus on goals? Economic indicators…literacy…usage data…
  • Library Taps are an under-utilized public resource
  • Local Loops are an (often) under-utilized public resource
  • Support idea by sending emails/letters to Secretary of State Sam Reed.
  • Cable companies wield immense power in the State of Washington. Does this idea threaten the value of their “private” (unregulated) networks?
  • Sidewalk Analogy – everyone is responsible for their own portion of the sidewalk as well as subsidizing the construction of “public” sections.
  • We need to relate this to other utilities in an audience-specific way
    • Water: people buy bottled water even though there is water everywhere, pipes into houses..
    • People buy books in book stores despite the ubiquity of public libraries.
    • Just like Seattle Power and Light: network owned by city but it’s part of the national grid. Once electricity passes to/from the grid, money changes hands.
  • “Homeland Institute” opposes this idea
  • What effect would ubiquitous connectivity have on transportation and mobility costs.
  • Will “legitimize” what are currently gray market transactions by encouraging what were formerly garage sales to sites like eBay, Freecycle
    • Rebuttal: craigslist gray market
  • Research: Keith Hampton (MIT) – doctoral dissertation on neighborhood connectivity
    • I want to meet this guy. Encourage Liz/Marc to bring him in to speak for MSR
  • Encourages civic engagement, neighborhood connectedness (dramatic…counter-intuitive)