Sunday, July 10, 2011

rethinking information infrastructure

Inspired by a conversation with Malik Benjamin at last night's South Miami Taste of the Town, a quick note about information technology in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Like Tallinn (both former Hanseatic League cities and capitals of Soviet Republics) Riga is deeply invested in information technology. Both Estonia and Latvia have cultivated the cosmopolitan quality of being connected to a broader world through travel and trade, and the internet is a big part of that transformation.

In Riga, one step they've taken is to rig old phone booths as wi-fi base stations to enable high speed wireless connections to the web in parks and nearby businesses. Now that pay phones have been rendered obsolete by cell phones (or whatever you call them) the existing networks of hard-wired phone booths give us an opportunity to create low-cost wi-fi networks. Malik has been working on a similar idea with public transit and educational facilities.

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