What if…we had free wifi everywhere?

Mar 02, 2015 Categories: Changing_Times, Education Today

How is your Monday going? I’m at my new workplace and enjoying the peace and quiet! I’m working in the city this year. Right in the heart of Melbourne in the head office which is great, get to see the more corporate side of public service :0). Bit of an eye-opener really!

Anyway, I was talking to some teachers the other day who were lamenting the lack of Internet at the homes of some of their kids. Some schools don’t have that problem of course. Their demographic at their schools means that parents have prioritised wifi at home. And that usually comes with devices – tablets, phones, laptops, gaming systems. These kids are connected all the time. Hopefully they learn to balance their real world and their virtual worlds though – and add in some fresh air too.

But some families don’t have wifi – choose not to or can’t afford it.

It got me to wondering….what if we had wifi everywhere, supplied to everyone, just like water (in the Western world at least) is provided to every home. We pay for it but the supply chain is a national service, overseen by the government.

But what if there was Internet in every public space and in our homes ?

What would it mean if we could be online all the time,everywhere, at home and out and about.

We could keep in touch with friends at any time. We could sing happy birthday to aunties overseas from at work or the park.

Friends could join in parties and celebrations as they go about their overseas workday.

Everyone would have access to all the information that’s online  – meaning more equality. Everyone would have more equal access to the best information about jobs, career advancement and politics.

Would it mean a more engaged public? At all levels of society?

Everyone would have the opportunity to interact with global leaders and follow global politics. Would that mean more people would actually act to change things for others around the world?

The answer to all these things is – maybe.

Maybe we’d be more compassionate to others, maybe we would take more time with friends and families who don’t live nearby, maybe we would connect with our community more.

Maybe.

But we have pretty wide-spread Internet access right now in Australia. In our cities most cafes and restaurants offer free wifi. Libraries also offer access, as do some train stations and art galleries.

And nothing has changed just yet. But is that because it’s only certain demographics that get to be online – costs and access limit how much some people get online. And they then don’t have the opportunities to engage online. They might use Facebook at work or read the news online but when they go home they leave their online lives behind.

But we’d have to think about the problems too –

If we had wifi everywhere there would be more opportunities to make mistakes too.

We’d all need to learn cyber-safety – even those of us who think the online world isn’t for us, or are ‘too old’ to learn. And the rate of bad choices would likely go up for a while as we all learned how to behave.

So I don’t know that we are ready for the online world to take over in the real-world just yet.

But that kind of equality would be nice…wouldn’t it?

 

 

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