Looking for the Revolution

Nov 16, 2005 11:30pm

Wednesday, 11:05 PM

Hello from Philadelphia, a town of which I’m rather fond, even on a rainy night in November.  I’ve come in search of the perfect hotspot.

I was ABC’s Philly correspondent (at times I was the entire bureau) for seven terrific years.  Center City has barely changed since we left, though, and that’s not a good sign.  Some things shouldn’t change ("We hold these truths to be self-evident," and all that; if you live in this part of the country, or ever pass through, the new Constitution Center is just stunning).  But buildings that came down ten years ago are still empty lots. 

To compensate, perhaps, the city’s leaders are trying to arrange for Wi-Fi to be a public utility, a little like electricity and water.  In future years, for a small fee (eventually, perhaps, none) you may be able to go online, without wires, anywhere in town.  400 other communities are trying the same thing.  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Could universal wireless web access really make a difference?  Democratize information?  Bridge the digital divide, and all that? Redtech5 posted an interesting dissent the other day to the video revolution–it’s worth a read, and please feel free to join in. 

(One data point I’ll add, but I’m more interested in what others say:  I’ve seen several video iPods now, found them surprisingly watchable, and–much more important–found other people watching them at length.  As I said the other day, there seems still to be plenty of demand for (this will be the wrong word) "conventional" media–TV, radio, newspapers, movies in theaters, etc.–but I what clearly worries media companies, my bosses included, is the chance that they’ll be left out as there are more and more options.)

At any rate, here I am in Philadelphia where it all started, carrying a laptop and a wireless card, and we’ll find out the hard way whether they’re starting something yet again. 

- Ned

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