Final Project Idea – Taking it for granted: Wi-Fi as a ‘Dial Tone’

Thesis

Each leap and evolution in technologies and the socialization of them creates expectations of a standard.  One example is “land line” telephony.  The dial tone is the first noise you hear when you lift the phone from the cradle, if the line is working.  If you do not hear the dial tone, you know something is wrong, but you expect to hear a dial tone and generally do not notice it otherwise.  Other examples of technologies we expect to just “be there” include television, radio and, more currently, connectivity, both wireless and cell.

As wireless connectivity becomes more pervasive, how does that change our expectations around personal and professional communications?  Does it affect our sense of place (that is, work place, school, home or elsewhere) or entertainment?  What kind of behaviors does this change?  What new things do we do and what behaviors atrophy or strengthen? What do we expect to be capable of doing, regardless of where we might be?

Statement of intent

I propose to assess how much wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) is perceived by First World countries as a given service (that is, you can take it for granted).  In particular, I will consider the efforts of municipalities and other organizations to provide Wi-Fi free. I will accomplish this primarily through research of academic papers and articles.  I will then look through more popular web sites (e.g. – Wired, MSNBC, TechCrunch) in order to gauge the more popular perception of wireless connectivity and the expectations surrounding it.

A portion of the research will include the more recent history of connectivity.  This will enable me to provide a prediction at the end of the paper of a potential direction for Wi-Fi, connectivity and some of the social changes that may ensue. Noting from where we’ve come, the road ahead is seen a bit more clearly.

Initial References

These initial sources will be further vetted in the research process, during which some paring down is likely to occur.

 

Diener, N. (2007, July). What Can Derail Wi-Fi?. Business Communications Review, 37(7), 39-39. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Fitzgerald, K. (2003, January 27). COMPUTERS TODAY, REFRIGERATORS NEXT?. Advertising Age, 74(4), S-2-S-2. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Gunasekaran, V., & Harmantzis, F. (2008, April). Towards a Wi-Fi ecosystem: Technology integration and emerging service models. Telecommunications Policy, 32(3/4), 163-181. Retrieved January 23, 2009, doi:10.1016/j.telpol.2008.01.002

HAMPTON, K., & GUPTA, N. (2008, December). Community and social interaction in the wireless city: wi-fi use in public and semi-public spaces. New Media & Society, 10(6), 831-850. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

He, T., Chan, S., & Wong, C. (2008, December). HomeMesh: A Low-Cost Indoor Wireless Mesh for Home Networking. IEEE Communications Magazine, 46(12), 79-85. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

In the ZONE. (2003, January 27). Advertising Age, Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Inagaki, N., & Fuentes-Bautista, M. (2006, 2006 Annual Meeting). Bridging the Broadband Gap or Recreating Digital Inequalities? The Social Shaping of Public Wi-Fi in Austin, Texas. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

MacKenzie, A. (2006, December). INNUMERABLE TRANSMISSIONS: WI-FI® FROM SPECTACLE TO MOVEMENT. Information, Communication & Society, 9(6), 781-802. Retrieved January 23, 2009, doi:10.1080/13691180601064139

Middleton, C., & Crow, B. (2008, September). Building Wi-Fi Networks for Communities: Three Canadian Cases. Canadian Journal of Communication, 33(3), 419-441. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Schmidt, T., Townsend, A. (2003). Why Wi-Fi wants to be free. Communications of the ACM, Volume 46 (issue 5), pg. 47 – 52

Skarica, C., Broedband, L., & Busch, C. (2007, October). METRO Wi-Fi Part 2. Communications Technology, 24(10), 32-36. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Stay home or roam. (2005, June). Communications News, Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown up digital: How the net generation is changing your world. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Wangerien, B. (2006, July). The challenges of Wi-Fi. Communications News, 43(7), 22-22. Retrieved January 23, 2009, from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Wei, R. (2006, November). Wi-Fi Powered WLAN: When Built, Who Will Use It? Exploring Predictors of Wireless Internet Adoption in the Workplace. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(1), 155-175. Retrieved January 23, 2009, doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00319.x

3 thoughts on “Final Project Idea – Taking it for granted: Wi-Fi as a ‘Dial Tone’

  1. Jeff, you mention looking at recent history of connectivity, if you plan to look at municipalities, will it help to bring in how these entities viewed communication technology historically, as in over a longer time period? Amazing resource list. Meg

  2. Pingback: Final Project Proposals « evolution and trends in digital media technologies

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