From the Argives, or 2001: A Wireless Odyssey

“It’s a costly idea and I don’t think that many people are going to bring their laptops to the library because when you’re doing research, it’s faster to just write your notes with a pencil and paper, to keep up with your thoughts.”

If you’re reading this in Olin or SciLi (on a personal, laptop computer, no less), pump your fist in the air and jump up and down. This week (or last, close enough) marks the tenth anniversary of a seemingly indispensable tool: wireless internet in the libraries. “Anyone with a laptop equiped [sic] with a Cisco wireless network card can bring their computer to Olin or the Science Libraries and access the internet,” reported contributing writer Emily P. 05 on November 2, 2001. The wireless speed ran at 11 megabytes per second, “compared to the Ethernet’s 10 Mbit connection.” Too bad the wireless card cost freaking $125 at the computer store.

The article is packed with student testimonies—and they’re almost unanimously skeptical of the development (and the cost of the card). What makes it especially worth the skim is the quotes from students who can’t possibly fathom that wireless internet is useful in the library:

  • “I love the library and I try to do as much work as I can there but I would never spend that much on a card for the internet—I would rather buy eight CD’s, said Kate G. ’05.
  • In the immortal words of Abner S. ’05: “It’s a costly idea and I don’t think that many people are going to bring their laptops to the library because when you’re doing research, it’s faster to just write your notes with a pencil and paper, to keep up with your thoughts.”
  • Adds Joe M. ’05, “While advancing technology always aids our current environment, I find that some of these advancements are frivolous and useless.”

As for the wireless quality itself, things weren’t entirely peachy then, either:

Since the wireless connection is transmitted on airwaves in the 2.4 gigahertz frequency range, the technology suffers interference and security problems. Cordless phones utilizing the 2.4 gigahertz waves and microwaves can interfere with the connection to access points which provides the signal.

The writer mentions in closing ITS’s plans to “expand the wireless zones to dormitories and dining areas.” So yeah, it’s been a pretty solid ten-year run (at least before the fad blows over). Read the full piece here and here, and have fun on the information superhighway. (Just remember to turn your microwave off first.)

LINK

2 thoughts on “From the Argives, or 2001: A Wireless Odyssey

  1. Anon

    “While advancing technology always aids our current environment, I find that some of these advancements are frivolous and useless.”

    Joe M. is particularly articulate. 

  2. Anon

    Adding to the retro tech confusion, the original reporter confused bits with bytes. There’s no way anything was running at 11 MB/s back in 2001. 

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