"That's not the way a speedy government ought to work."
I'm sorry, but who ever made the mistake of calling the US government "speedy" (at least since the end of the Cold War)? Or even any single branch, organization, or department of the US government? Anyone with more brain cells than an amoeba will tell you the US government is anything but speedy (especially those foreign citizens who need to renew their Green Cards).
As for the subject of this article, I just have to ask -- why? Why do we act as if wireless internet access is going to save mankind? Why do we act as if it's a necessity? It's not, especially when you consider the value of the internet. As time rolls on, the internet becomes more and more useless. People can use all the buzzwords they'd like, but the truth is that with every passing day, the internet becomes more and more a joke. Yes, it grows more every day, but that doesn't mean it gets better. Anyone who was here from the beginning up until it became popular around 1995-1996 or so (right around the time 33.6kbps modems became popular) will tell you it's gone to hell. Seriously, are we to believe that eBay, YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook, Wikipedia, Second Life, and more spam than you can shake a stick at have actually increased the true value of the internet?
Speaking more broadly, let's also dispense with the notion that computers help people learn, or that filling our schools and homes with computers will result in smarter people. Right around the time the US started putting computers into its schools en mass is when students started becoming more stupid (which, as it turns out, is exactly when the internet started becoming popular).
If anything, I would say the internet has destroyed the hacker mentality. Look at the young people (age 16 and younger) you know and those around you. How many have the hacker mentality? How many really want to know how a computer works? How many are completely enraptured with learning and seeing how they can push the hardware? How many know what a BBS was? How many would recognize the name Future Crew? How many have heard of Mode X? How many know which ports are used for video? Hell, how many even know what a port is? How many would care to see what they could cram into the fewest bytes possible, like the old 4k and 64k comps? Most people nowadays say bloat doesn't matter because processor speed, memory, and storage has increased so much. What was the last demo you saw, and when was it made? The last ANSi art? The last MOD, S3M, MTM, or 669 you listened to? The last BBS you dialed?
Progress is a wonderful thing, but if you ask me, the internet (and Windows 95 and up) has destroyed the seed of curiosity which was implanted into so many of us, and has destroyed the communities we grew up with through BBSing. Nowadays most people get into IT because they think it's a high-paying field, or because it's become the "cool" thing to do. But look around at the youth of today and ask yourself -- do you really think the youth of today have anything of substance to offer the field? Will the youth of today revolutionize computers the way IBM, HP, Sun, Intel, AMD, VIA, and Transmeta did? Will they push the audio-visual envelope the way Future Crew and other demo groups did? Will they revolutionize gameplay the way id, Apogee, 3drealms, and Epic Megagames did? Somehow, I doubt it.
The internet is a great thing to an extent. Email can keep people in touch over great distances at low cost. We (those of us not firewalled from the world) can see what's really going on without having to rely on local/national media we don't trust. We can easily communicate with the manufacturers of the products we buy, download product manuals, etc. But in many areas online shopping has displaced local shopping (as has Wal-Mart, but that's a discussion for another day). Search results have gone from meaningful to useless because of the extra noise and spam (and why the hell does Google return results when the words I typed only appeared on a page linking to that result, not actually appearing in the result shown?). And the internet has become a place where every idiot with a browser can make their own "home" and upload their life story, letting everyone know, in excruciating detail, every second of their mundane existence.
It's like television. 300 channels, and it's all shit. And yet we act like it's a necessity. Don't worry about the hungry or the homeless. Just give me my free wireless internet access.