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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Interesting, fun, sad, true article on Google and Kansas City right now

All that potential, right?

The Google Fiber Space showroom in Kansas City, Mo.
The Google Fiber Space showroom in Kansas City, Mo.*
Courtesy of Google

"...Google’s gigabit initiative, called Google Fiber, has sparked a round of questions across the tech industry. Is Google looking to become an Internet service provider? Does it simply want to spur other ISPs into providing faster service? And why wire Kansas City rather than, say, Silicon Valley or New York? And, finally, why gigabit Internet—what does Google expect people to do with the world’s fastest broadband service?

In this piece, I’ll focus on the last two questions: What has it been like for the people of Kansas City to live and work with the world’s fastest Internet?"

The sad and true part:

To be sure, this was pretty cool. And yet it wasn’t mind-blowing. Indeed, it felt a little underwhelming. After all, who needs to play five HD videos at the same time? If that’s Google’s best demo of its superfast service, what does it suggest about what regular people will do with it? What’s more, the demo didn’t even begin to approach the limits of Google Fiber—with five HD videos playing simultaneously there were still hundreds of megabits left on the pipe. When I got back home a few days later, I replicated the same test on my home broadband line and experienced only a few hiccups.
And this gets to the fundamental problem with Google Fiber: It’s totally awesome, and totally unnecessary. During my time in Kansas City, I spoke to several local businesspeople, aspiring startup founders, and a few city boosters. They were all thrilled that Google had come to town, and the few who’d gotten access to the Google pipe said they really loved it. But I couldn’t find a single person who’d found a way to use Google Fiber to anywhere near its potential—or even a half or quarter of what it can do. It was even difficult to find people who could fully utilize Google Fiber in their imaginations. As hard as people tried, few could even think up ways to do something truly amazing with the world’s fastest Internet.
The fun, interesting, even good part, especially for Kansas City since we got some good press here:

But I also saw small signs that people are beginning to think about ways to get this cycle rolling. Unbeknownst to most techies in Silicon Valley, Kansas City has a thriving startup scene, and a few local entrepreneurs have been trying to attract smart people to the city to make use of Google Fiber. Ben Barreth, a Web developer, recently purchased a modest house in one of the first neighborhoods to be wired with Fiber. He calls it the “Home for Hackers,” and he’s letting smart techie types from outside the city live in the house rent-free for three months.

It's a good and even important read, even for the internet world, more broadly, let alone for us Kansas Citians.

What it tells us, ultimately, is that we need to come up with reasons and ways to use this technology.

We need to get busy, people. This technical advantage we have won't last long.


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