Sunday, July 11, 2010

Learning to Swim at Broadband Speed

I was just reading "High Speed for the Sparsely Wired" in @NYTimes this week about the portion of the government stimulus program that allocates $7.2 billion for extending high-speed Internet access. I have to say, I'm pretty fascinated by both the possibilities facing rural communities about to get transported to the web 2.0 community via the economic stimulus plan...and by the perspectives of people in and out of those in dial-up-speed land.

Think about it: if you're reading this blog, chances are you didn't have to wait a half hour for the page to load. (And if you did, and think I'm THAT worth it, bless your heart.) That means you likely live in an area where broadband means PDQ* access to the world wide web.
It means traversing global villages and accessing the knowledge of the crowd on literally any topic you can imagine. It means you can, like view images of Mars or play web chess with someone in the Czech Republic...or try the impossible of keeping up with every damn article on social media marketing, staying up every night til 2AM....

The comments on this news story are inspiring, as many in rural areas talk about gaining the ability to work virtually, or post resumes, or set up online storefronts -- helping to open up new commerce opportunities. And imagine this: expanded health care options, too! For example,
"doctors in Anchorage, 400 miles to the east, can see patients via videoconference."
It's a whole new frontier for many, down to learning how to build a skyscraper ad right in their own backyard. Of course it also means closer examinations of the less illustrious and the downright icky. Or, as "Mike" commented on this topic in a NY Times story:
"How can you not look at that [article] and think, "Hi, JokrBoy. I'm HotBlonde. What r u wearing?"
Access to the vain or glorious aside, it means a whole new part of the country will be exposed to social media tools that some 500,000,000 Facebook users take for granted. We're not talking total social media virgins, as patience, or satellite and cellular services have certainly enabled access for many. But from an almost anthropological perspective, it will be interesting to observe how superfast, 24/7 entry to Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Digg impacts life as they knew it. I can already hear the cries of "and WHY do I want to 'tweet'!?" or "What a time suck!" Oh the stories I could tell...the caveats...the techniques... Don't use all CAPS! Don't "sell!" Do remember my social coaching mantra of "Look. Listen. Learn. Participate. Lead!"

Unless our rural friends stay up nights studying
Mashable and Brogan, Ochman to Owyang til all hours, they will have to learn it all the hard way. They will be jumping into the deep end that most of us had the chance to hold hands and wade into more slowly back in the day, last year or so.

*Now it will even be easy to figure out obscure references like "PDQ."

1 comment:

B.L. Ochman said...

thanks for including me in this thoughtful piece - nice to be in the company of friends i respect so highly.

i agree that high speed access will change the world for the good, and think it can't happen soon enough!

agree also about the job of reading every damn social media article, but i've found a lot of wisdom, amd made a lot of friends - including you- by reading them all.