Statewide wireless

Over on MyLeftNutmg, MattW points out Rep. Tom Drew’s proposed bill, Proposed Bill No. 6502, AN ACT CONCERNING WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS.

That the general statutes be amended to establish a working group to make recommendations for creating incentives to expand or maximize wireless Internet access in the state.

On initial reading, this sounds like a great idea. Statewide WiFi. As I commented on MyLeftNutmeg:

As a starting point, every public building ought to have WiFi. Schools, libraries, town halls, court houses, police stations, etc. Some already do, and many others can without much work.

Getting WiFi at parks and Community Technology Centers probably brings even more bang for the buck, but is harder get through.

Yet the devil is always in the details. Who will be in the working group? What will happen to the recommendations? What sort of incentives are being considered? Will the group be made up of industry executives pushing for proposals for large corporate giveaways to get the corporations to make $30/month WiFi access more ubiquitous? Will the group be made up of technogeeks pushing for some wonderful but arcane and unusable solution? Will the recommendations end up being one more set of recommendations that get added to a library somewhere and not acted upon? We shall see.

How will this “maximize economic and other development” in our State? Will it be done in such a way that helps alleviate the digital divide, or will it compound the digital divide with policies that make it useful only to people that already have WiFi enabled laptops and the knowledge of how to use them.

I hope that we get a lot of people working together to make sure that this bill does bring about greater Internet access for a wide spectrum of citizens.

"The War on Journalism" - Updated

This morning, I received a phone call from Sergeant Hanlon of Group 12, the internal affairs bureau of the New York City Police Department. My wife was a little concerned about why a Sergeant from the New York City Police was calling me, but when she understood the details, she handed the phone over to me. He was calling in regards to the email I had sent about "The War on Journalism".

Sergeant Hanlon said that the Police Department and received several emails about the event at the Mexican Consulate and that many videos had emerged online. The Police Department’s Video Unit is reviewing the online videos and will be providing information to Sergeant Hanlon. He will be handling the investigation from there.

If any people have additional information they should contact Sergeant Hanlon at 212 694 3115. Sergeant Hanlon was very helpful in providing information and hopefully will conduct a thorough investigation into what happened.

(Categories: )

Quality Journalism

Theroux’s travels across China provided the audio soundtrack for my trip across Tennessee, punctuated by checking NPR news on the hour. As I passed through Nashville, it occurred to me to spend a little bit of time listening to some of the local radio stations. I listened to music from Nashville until it faded in the distance. Yet the mental soundtrack was provided by Robert Pirsig. What was I doing driving a Toyota Prius across Tennessee after long drives from Connecticut to Virginia to North Carolina? No, my little Prius is pretty different from Pirsig’s motorcycle, but there were parallels.

Theroux often referred to the last time he had been in China and how much things had changed since then. I thought back to my various trips to Tennessee. In 1983, I spent several months hitchhiking across the States and Europe. I hitchhiked down from Kentucky into Tennessee going from one old college buddies place to the next. I was picked up by a trucker who called himself Outlaw Floyd. He thought I was really pretty and could make a good living in San Diego servicing Navy boys. He was heading to San Diego and offered to take me out there and set me up in business. I got off in Knoxville.

I thought of other trips to Knoxville to visit old college buddies and head up into the Smoky Mountains, or of when I came to Knoxville to spend a long weekend at a cabin with a bunch of friends I had met from an online community. I drove past interstate entrance ramps where I was sure I had stood for hours. When I stopped to get gas, I saw a guy standing on the side of the ramp with a sign saying Chattanooga. I was heading to Memphis, but stopped to see if I could at least get him a little closer to his destination. Unfortunately, I-40 and I-75 split very soon after the ramp, so I really couldn’t help him. It was good, though, to see that people still hitchhike and to chat with him briefly.

All of these memories were from long ago, when I was on the road, looking to find something, perhaps ‘the metaphysics of quality’. NewsTrust is supposed to be about finding ‘quality’ journalism. What is quality? Where does quality fit into the future of journalism, into the blueprint for the next newsroom? Hopefully, I will explore some of this over the next couple of days.

In parallel with this, I thought of my struggles in school years ago, and my struggles now with my daughters’ schooling now. The Wikipedia article about Robert Pirsig starts off, “By virtue of being a precocious child with an IQ of 170 at age 9, Pirsig skipped several grades. This, along with a stammer, made for a difficult school experience.”

I arrived in Memphis and settled into my hotel. I am reading various papers in preparation for the conference. I am relaxing from the drive. I struggle to make sure I get good WiFi signal and I rest in the whirlpool. The hotel is large. It feels mostly empty and a little bit shabby. It makes me think about the hotels that Theroux writes about, a big hotel built as part of a politburo five year plan, that hasn’t turned out the way it is supposed to.

The drive, the hitchhikers, the music, the memories, the hotel; perhaps all of these are part of some larger metaphor for my own future, my daughters’ future, the future of journalism, and in fact for the future of this country, of all of us.

What does it all mean? I’m not sure. Things don’t turn out as they are supposed to. Yet I hold on to the hope that difficult experiences will lead all of us to ‘quality’.

Both Sides Now of the Road not Taken

How do I go from meeting with people to talk about how my daughters can have the most successful educational experiences possible to a meeting with people to talk about the future of journalism? The easy answer is head south on I-81, throw the Paul Theroux tape in the cassette player and start driving. Yet that only addresses the logistics. As I drove down I-81 listening to stories about Mongolia, I looked out the window and saw cattle standing by the side of the highway with snow covered mountains in the distance. We haven’t had any snow on the ground up in Connecticut, and here I was in Virginia seeing snow in the distance. There was a disconnect between what I was seeing, what I was hearing and what I was thinking.

Why I am canceling Google AdSense

Last Thursday, I received an email from 'Google Adsense' saying:

It has come to our attention that invalid clicks or impressions have been generated on the Google ads on your site(s) through users of third-party programs paid or provided with other incentives to visit your site. Such programs may include, but are not limited to auto-surf, pay-to-surf, pay-to-read, or pay-to-click sites.

I responded:

I do not know of any invalid clicks that have been generated on Google ads for my site. Can you provide me additional information, such as the IP addresses this is occuring from, the time, and any suggestions about how I can prevent this?

Today, I received an email from Google stating:

As you know, Google treats instances of invalid click and impression activity very seriously. As a reminder, we cannot disclose any details about how our monitoring technology works or what specifics we found on your account. However, we can assure you that we have thoroughly re-reviewed your account, and have confirmed that your account violated our program's Terms and Conditions.

The email was from 'The Google AdSense Team' and provided no useful information.

In my response, I noted

It appears as if you are hiding behind the rationale that providing any substantiation of your allegations would make it easier for others to take advantage of you. This rationale is very similar to the one used by the current U.S. Administration for doing away with a thousand years of jurisprudence and our basic civil rights.

I also told them I would stop using AdSense and encourage other bloggers to do the same.

Google is a very large corporation, and over the two and a quarter years that I've used AdSense, I've earned a total of around $70, so my leaving AdSense won't really affect either me or Google.

Yet I do hope that this blog entry causes others to stop and question whether or not Google can or should be trusted as an advertising vendor.

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