Even in its earliest days of general public use the Internet was compared to a road, a highway. ‘The Information Highway’ was a common term we don’t actually hear so much now.
A new fad
I started teaching community groups about the Internet and encouraging them to use it, in 1991 or so, just before the World Wide Web reached New Zealand.
At that time it was a hard sell:
There’s this thing called the Internet … you can do email where you send messages that arrive instantly … And their response would be:
Huh? What? Why would you want to?
Extortionate prices didn’t help: NZ$10 for 1 megabyte of data is what I recall from that time. There was a reason why emails needed to be plain text only, short, and simple.
An embedded feature
Now, less than 20 years later, the Internet is firmly embedded in all our lives. Plain text emails have been surpassed and superceded; we have access to movies, music, real-time news, webcams, chat, friendships, activism, and a million other things that connect us and enable us to act.
Increasingly businesses and governments are virtually requiring us to use the Internet for business and civic affairs, while leisure is heavily influenced by what we can find online.
An essential service
There seems to be an ever-growing perception that the Internet should be an essential service, like water, electricity and roading.
It’s a perception I totally agree with and support.
Now the New Zealand town of Stratford, population 5,200, is considering adding broadband to the essential services it supplies:
Stratford District Council yesterday approved a $20,000 feasibility study into free broadband at its policy meeting. …
What the chief executive asked councillors to consider was whether broadband would become a core service in the future, like the library or swimming pool.
I hope the feasibility study work out and that the Council go ahead with making broadband available to all residents. I’m sure there will be issues, huge issues around payment and eligibility, and who controls what, but they can all be worked out.
Then let’s hope other towns and cities and districts follow suit, until the entire country is just ‘connected’.
And then if only we could get some more cables to connect New Zealand with the outside world and find a way to remove the broadband caps we’d really be motoring!