Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday thought: it's over; it's beginning

Here's some food for thought:

The battle for fiber is over.

It is over. We are going to get our own network.

What isn't over is the "battle" for its success.

The point of the fight wasn't to win; it was to make possible a different future for Lafayette than would be possible without such a network. That future is now possible. But it is merely possible.

During the fiber fight everyone walked on eggs--we were negotiating, together and without much coordination, a battle in which any slip could endanger the project. We learned patience, and a kind of discipline. We held our tongues and expended our energies where they could do the most good. What I am hoping is that we've also learned a kind of trust. Earned a kind of trust.

Neither the incumbents nor their few, discredited, local allies are any danger to the basic project any longer. We need to get used to the idea that what they think is now inconsequential. Shaping our conversation to worries about how "they" will use it against us no longer makes sense.

Worse than making no sense: it keeps us from having the conversation among ourselves that is now needed. We need to be dreaming: big grandiose, silly, marginally possible dreams. Noble dreams. Wild dreams. All that dreaming needs to collide within accurate, abundant, information about the network and the various paths for building it. We've got a big helping of fiber on our plate but that does not make a complete, satisfying meal. When all this settles down in a decade or so fiber itself will be merely a unique element of the feast on Lafayette's table. How we build that fiber into what we put on the table--economically, socially, and culturally; in terms of the digital divide and local development--is best served by an open, even messy, conversation.

It would be a loss for Lafayette if, out of a mistaken fear of a vanquished enemy--or even fear of a new crop of dissidents--we didn't take advantage of the moment to consider every way to maximize the value of the network to our community.

The fear should be over: let the good times roll.

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