The World Wide Web is a library. Internet-ready devices continue to plummet in price. Access to the Internet is expensive, worldwide. I believe that we have an awesome and compelling opportunity and civic duty to ensure that this library is--like the many great public libraries in the United States thanks to folks like Dale Carnegie--as freely-available to as many people around the world as possible. Government-provided internet service can be an economical enterprise, providing fast, wireless service to an entire region for pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of privately-owned and operated copper loops. But government-provided WiFi can also be mismanaged or abused for personal or corporate profiteering...
Recently, I came across this series of articles about munincipal Wi-Fi on Corante.com. The series, written by Russell Shaw and “Sponsored by EarthLink Wireless”, has me thinking twice about two things:
- Is munincipal Wi-Fi really the way to go? It might be right for Redmond but is it right for everyone?
Does Earthlink see a niche for itself in actually promoting the adoption of munincipal Wi-Fi networks. That must be it. Government contracts are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for companies who see them for what they are: a stable, long-term revenue stream that requires little marketing, will pay more than they have to in order to close the deal quickly and easily, and whose employees are rarely as well-informed as and are almost never held to the same level of accountability as their counterparts in the private sector.
- In the age of RSS, will Internet sites like Corante.com turn away from on-page advertisements in favor of subtly commercialized content?
I hope not. In general, I hold Corante.com in high regard. The site provides more content on the subjects that interest me than any other single site on the Internet, including Slashdot. They provide a soapbox to some of the most incisive, imaginative, and independent voices in the high tech industry.
But when I recently came across the "vision/wireless" series about munincipal Wi-Fi, which is seamlessly intermixed with otherwise non-commercial content, I started to question the trustworthiness and journalistic integrity of Corante.com. This syndicated series is a far cry from on-page banner ads. Don't get me wrong, I still consider Corante to be reputable but I AM CONCERNED that they are injecting commercial content into my RSS feed without sufficient notification.
I guess the lesson is that what you read in your RSS Reader isn't necessarily as trustworthy as an online article. Nevertheless, I hope that Corante.com and others plainly state potential conflicts of interests in the body of their articles so that I can continue to enjoy AND trust their content by RSS or another syndication format.