The Federal Communications Commission is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan that will reimagine the nation's media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network...
...Mr. Genachowski observed that the country could build state-of-the-art computers and applications, but without equivalent broadband wiring, "it would be like having the technology for great electric cars, but terrible roads."
Wouldn't it be be nice to have somebody build the local roads for us, in a way that put GSO in the spotlight as a city with great infrastructure and great interest in this new economy?
Somebody please tell Bill Knight and Skip Alston that this Google thing is kind of important.
The tempest over GSO's official Googlefi website hit the N&R this morning.
It's a real issue on two fronts: the site is inadequate to the job at hand, and the site does not seem to provide reasonable value for the price charged to build and maintain it.
All of those problems carry the caveat "so far," but this is a time-sensitive project.
On the other hand, it's too early and too breathless to say this part of the public effort "could blow Greensboro's chances."
The City's formal response to Google's RFI is a crucial element here. We are fortunate that Danny Thompson, Nancy Vaughan, Robbie Perkins, and other Council members jumped on this early, enabling staff to get going on the project.
Beyond that, factors beyond our control (location, demographics, economy) have to play a large role in GOOG's decision.
Still, the public response is said to be important.
It may be that more is going on behind the scenes than we know. I hope so, but that would be a problem in itself -- this should be a transparent effort with meaningful ways for the public to contribute.
Meanwhile, we're left to wonder: Where's Bill Knight? What are the CoC and Action Greensboro and the universities and MoCoHS and the public schools et al doing, and who is coordinating that effort?
I hope the PR firm has a plan to boost membership on our FB page (you have joined, and invited your friends, right?) and also to get our Mayor to do more than vote in favor of a resolution at an upcoming meeting.
This screen cap shows what I'm talking about when I say the City's thousand dollar blog looks hinky in Firefox (click image to enlarge) -- note the way the words spill out of the tabs at the top. Also, "About Initiative" ain't real good English.
Roch has a point about the blog's scope and functionality. I know it's only been up a short while, but this is a fast-paced project, and we are paying these folks another $2,000 for "Website Management & Updating of Content in March," so expecting it to be as rich as this, or even as linky this or my own blog's GoogleFi category, seems reasonable.
Today in superfast internet news: "Using a CRS-3, Cisco claims it is possible to download the entire
printed collection of the Library of Congress in just over one second;
every man, woman and child in China to make a video call,
simultaneously; and every motion picture ever created to be streamed in
less than four minutes."
"Getting community leaders on board early should help Google gain the
right of way to lay all the fiber-optic cable needed to complete the
Anyone heard from the mayor yet on this effort? [UPDATE: Yes, and he likes what the Council is doing and expects a supporting resolution at the next meeting.]
WSJ (behind the paywall, but you should be able to read the whole thing here for the next seven days) on the realities of superfast internets:
Google's outreach comes as it confronts the hurdles in building its
ultrahigh-speed Internet network and services to go along with it...building such a network is a giant construction problem,
with the cost potentially surpassing $1 billion...
In addition, there isn't online content designed for people with
such high-speed Internet connections, which could make the completed
"Beyond the cost issues and economic challenges in terms of what it
takes to develop the infrastructure, to me one of the most significant
barriers is that we don't have a vision of what we're missing and what
[ultrahigh-speed Internet connections] will enable us to do," says Jim
Baller, a Washington lawyer who is consulting with Google on the
One problem with conceptualizing the future is the difficulty of plotting multivariable scenarios. We imagine big changes in one area -- say, super highspeed internets -- without understanding what else might be different and what impact these other changes will have on innovation (previously on this topic).
So you can't just think about fatter pipes, you have to think about things like the devices we'll be using to access and manipulate the data torrent. Yeah, the iPad ads look pretty neat -- but that's just the beginning. When nanophotonic avalanche photodetectors go mainstream, we'll want to have the bandwidth to use the new tools to the fullest extent possible:
UPDATE: Michele tweets, City of GSO paid $1K to add header/widgets to default WP theme for Google site? And in Firefox, it looks, umm... She's got a screencap of umm.
I disagree with the comment saying no expenditure was necessary for the marketing/PR project, and I'm holding out hope that there's more to the web presence than what we've seen so far...END UPDATE
Roch critiques the City's contract with RLF, saying we're paying $10K for "a 'web site' that is a blog -- and it is a Word Press blog to boot, not even a Google-powered blog."
To be fair, it seems to be a $3K blog, with the other $7K going for other services, and much of the $3K going to management of the web presence.
Ryan looks at the itemized bill and says, "I'm a bit
shocked that the City paid $1,000 for that Web site. It's a simple
Wordpress theme that has a custom header/navigation, a few widgets and
a custom border."
More from Roch:
The City's blog allows people to make comments on posts. Other than
that, it is unclear what kind of unfettered access it provides to
social media or what kind of special experience in unfettered access
public-meeting-boycotting RLF Communications brings to the table. The
City's blog has nothing like the unfettered aggregation of blogs posts,
videos and links at Google4Greensboro.com -- up and running since prior to the City's public meeting about the Google initiative ten days ago.
As I said this morning, the site looks a bit off in Firefox. I'm assuming that the site will be much more richly populated with links and features in the very near future, and that this first iteration does not represent the end of the design for which the taxpayers are paying $1,000. If I'm wrong, and RFI really just charged us $1K for setting up a blog, well, that would suck.
Ensure that you work closely with the city, understanding their infrastructure...Think of fiber optic not as telecom, but as a new sort of societal
building block. Think of it as an input. Think of it as fertile
soil. Spread it around. Do NOT hoard it. Give it away as much as you
Here's a PDF of what Google actually wants from applicants.
Seems to me the City is doing a good job. Just add an official website documenting its efforts and linking out to various community assets -- everything from this to this, plus project-specific media and evidence of offical buy-in -- and we're rolling.
Action Greensboro could help by corralling the bigwigs and getting their input and participation.
City staff shape Google plan (memo to Council after the jump).
To clarify my thoughts on Action Greensboro's participation, including the hiring of professional firms to coordinate strategy and get stuff done: great, please do it -- just do it with some transparency. Let us know what you are doing on our behalf, and maybe even ask for input.
Another public meeting might be a good idea, but there should be a purpose -- say, bulletproofing the City plan and filling in holes. I'd like to hear more from small businesses and artists about what this initiative could mean for them.
UPDATE: Overlap with another thread: "The City
needs its own official, central site. A message from the mayor would be
nice to see there. As Jim [Caserta] says, Google is looking for local government
Sean Coon created this Facebook ad urging people to join the BGFTGNC! group. [UPDATE: you can do it, too.]
Sean's baby probably deserves a mention in the GSO application. I'd love to hear what he could do with super internet powers.
I posted my first-ever status update at FB, asking people to join BGFTGNC!, and also sent invitations via the site to my local FB friends. Seems to have paid off with a coupla-few dozen names overnight; please consider promoting the group to your own network.
MORE: "That is the kind of thing Greensboro needs by the truck load,
on-the-record public support from our school system administrators,
university presidents, business leaders, newspaper publishers, media
moguls and community activists. Pronto." Also, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers -- anyone with something useful to say about how fat pipes would change things for the better, and/or what GSO offers GOOG.
Public interest is said to be a factor in this decision, so let's show some interest.
If Google doesn't pick GSO, we will have demonstrated demand for better digital infrastructure, and developed relationships that could help make that happen. Same is true if Google picks GSO and we opt not to take the deal.
Sam's been firingblanks at the Google fiber initiative. Today he comes out and says, in response to an N&R editorial, "No borrowing for broadband," which is at least a coherent position, even if it's wrong.
We don't know what the costs of winning Google would be. Seems to me the PR impact of the project would be blunted considerably if the hugely rich company turned around and told the recipients they're getting the bill, but if that happens, we can always say no thanks, and still be better off for the experience. And if some costs are involved in leveraging a major infrastructure upgrade, we should at least consider them.
Ryan makes some good points here, including the possibility of muni-fi (another opportunity for local foundations to step up?) and the need for a City-owned web page. I don't see the point of having the City administer the FB page, though, although continuing to publicize it would help.
Meanwhile....has Action Greensboro really disengaged its PR firm, just because some bloggers objected to the closed-door process? How does Ryan know this? Could these people manage transparency if you spotted them a pane of glass and some Windex?
Just a note on the blog -- we're interested, here's what we'd like to offer -- would go a long way.
Google4GSO aggregates blog posts and news about the effort to bring Google's high speed fiber project to Greensboro. Thanks to Roch Smith Jr. for setting it up.
Good to see three Council members (Thompson, Vaughan, Perkins) at tonight's public meeting. Lots of good ideas from the floor about what Google could mean to GSO, with references to education, medicine, business, and creativity. Some highly tech-literate folks among the speakers.
Somebody said we won't just be doing things faster online, we'll be doing different things -- stuff we can't yet imagine. I hope we can reach out to people in the fields mentioned above and ask them to take a shot at imagining some of the possibilities, and then express them to Google in a way that makes us stand out.
Also, if the future is mobile devices, what does this project mean?
Also good to sketch some ways this could reach across the digital divide to parts of the community that tend to get left out of tech dreams. Maybe local foundations could tell Google they'd help meet funding needs?
Also, we should talk about what's in it for Google, not just what's in it for us.
Teevee coverage: Bonus for messing up Brod's name twice.
N&R FPAF on attracting Google fiber stresses community involvement. This is an important angle and an element of the application process. Here's the FB page. I joined.
Tony Wilkins asks in the comments beneath the article about the impact of a Google deal on existing City commitments to TWC. At the end of this article, John Hammer asks about right-of-way agreements and potential conflicts with other companies. These issues should be answered quickly.
Greensboro also needs to address some structural challenges to its bid. Om Malik points out that Google's cost will be strongly influenced by population density. Farhad Manjoo says the company will get the most bang for its buck by aiming at "high-profile tech hubs."
A smart bid by GSO would include reasons that our relatively low density and far-from-Silicon Valleyness are virtues, which they actually might be for a company interested in finding out how next-gen internet will work in the large swatches of the country beyond the usual hotspots.
I'd also urge the City to make this all as transparent as possible. I know there's a public meeting tomorrow night, and that staffers are working on it, but that's all I know. Where's the project's public web presence?
UPDATE: PP focuses on Perkins' comment about incentives. Not saying cities won't try it, or that Google has not played the game for other projects, or even that it might not be a decent investment, but I think GOOG would be unwise to make incentives part of this particular scenario.
I liked Robbie Perkins' no-nonsense approach to the Google pursuit at tonight's Council meeting. Time is short.
Lots of places are interested in this thing, and people are asking questions about it, too. Sam's reference to the Lenoir refrigerated warehouse is a stretch, but it's wise to remember that Google is not a charity.
The physical world is not going away. GSO is well situated to participate in the logistics marketplace, and heavily invested in doing so. Let's get smart people like Ashfaque Chowdhury at New Breed to tell us how a hot rod internet could help.
But Roch is 104% correct that this goes way beyond logistics (I'm guessing that Danny would agree with that).
Aren't we supposed to be some sort of college town, with tens of thousands of students and a research orientation?
Don't we have a big, powerful hospital group here?
[I]t's an open question whether Google will make
the same kind of money in a post-advertising marketplace. I'm betting
Not sure how relevant the display ad figure Doc uses is to GOOG's business, and I'm guessing that the "post-advertising marketplace" will be more like a "different sort of advertising marketplace," and that this is one reason Google is pushing its high-speed program.
We plan to test
ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations
across the country...
From now until March 26th, we're asking interested municipalities
to provide us with information about their communities through a
Request for information (RFI), which we'll use to determine where to
build our network.