Manhattan WiFi Map

November 5, 2002

in Strategic Foresight

Found a new map on Smartmobs, the results of the Public Internet Project to log WiFi nodes across Manhattan. Also picked up in Werblog and others.

At first glance it looks like an explosion of WiFi inter-connectivity and visually we are being asked to reconsider our “traditional” mental models. However, let’s also provide some perspective. MAPS are made for purposes. And this one reminds me of another island and the stories around early maps showing California as an island. At GBN we called it the Map Rap. It’s a story about mental models, our assumptions and perceptions.

The learning. If you get your facts wrong, you get your maps wrong. If your map is wrong you tend to do the wrong things. Please don’t get me wrong. This is a wonderful map, and interesting collaborative project. What a neat idea. Yet……

Public Internet Project.bmp

….it misses many aspects and details. This is a map that existed last fall. Maps are a wonderful naviagation tool. At issue here is how to navigate from then to the future. The answer will not be found in the map, but in the hearts and minds of those connected to the ground swell. They are not only in Manhattan, networks like these are popping up all over.

The technical forces have propelled us this far. Yet what I want is a living map, showing the conections, and exchanges at any point in time. Though is this enough? I’d suggest this is just another signal in the tsunami of change. If you are tel co, an info provider, etc. I hope you are way beyond this map testing alternate environments in which your decisions play out. If a completely devolved decentralized mass provided impersonal collaborative network is not part of your thoughts, then consider testing your strategies against it. Don’t just think about sytems. Think about social structures. From communications to accounting and marketing! etc.

Then… what might tickle a real explosion?

It also poses antoher question. As a company, have you done enough future thinking? Now what are all those wireless networking companies doing about their brands?

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