Friday, March 02, 2007

More on the Fiber Forums

Both the Advocate and the Advertiser (apparently online-only for now) report on the upcoming fiber forums. Announced yesterday, (see LPF's take) the press release promoted the forum as a way to gauge the citizens' desires in a new system.

The essential information:
Thursday, March 8, 2007,
at 5:30 p.m.
in the first-floor atrium of City Hall,
705 West University Avenue.

From the Advocate:
LUS said, it is designing its system, figuring out the best hardware to deliver phone, cable and high-speed Internet, as well as developing the specific packages of services and products it will offer.

That’s the point of the public meeting, Huval said.

“The people of Lafayette will own and operate this system, and we are looking to them to help prioritize what services will be offered,” Huval said in the release.

and
“Right now, I want to keep the process open to new ideas that can make Lafayette’s system more ‘Lafayette-like,’ ” Huval wrote.
Here's the thing:
Lafayette's network will be extremely capable, and enormously flexible, chiefly because it will simply have enormous capacity. Giving us the standard applications like phone, cable, and internet reflects what can be done with much less capable systems. That's impressive and will be phat indeed. Fat pipes will make each of those capacities free from the drop-outs and compression issues that plauge digitial systems operating at their limits.

But our system will be capable of much, much more. We will have an intranet (get used to distinguishing it from the internet) that will have a carrying capacity that very few or no other American community has. We'll be able to communicate with each other at speeds that make your current internet experience seem puny. (If you've ever worked at a university or on a large corporate campus you'll know what I mean.) Want full screen video-conferencing? NOooo problem. Want to throw in white-boarding applications? Just open it in another window. Want to jointly edit the outline for next week's meeting and, by the by, trade grandkid pictures in a back channel? Go for it. You'll not bog down our system. Those applications exist today. Outside intranets nobody uses them--just not enough capacity. But Lafayette will have that intranet and for the first time that capacity will be available between people who are not working together. Regular folks will be able to do video calls and video conferencing (within Lafayette) easily.

The gist is this: to get the full return out of our shiny new network we'll have invent new ways of interacting with each other and new ways of using technology. We'll only be able to take hints from other's situation since ours will be so different as to be almost unique. Lafayette is in a position to invent the future.

But to do that we will have to start thinking outside the box about what we want. Technicians and even "visionaries" can't do it for us. So it's not just a gesture to ask what the community wants: it is a critically important unsettled question.

And that process starts (but does not end) on March 8th.

Now comes the good part.

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