Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Technology for Pity


The internet lords of Google made a big splash today when they announced that they are hoping to build a fiber network with download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That's like 60 gigabits in one minute (do the table conversion you learned in chemistry, but only if you're a genius). The current plan is to service somewhere between 50,000 and 500,000 individuals who will have the ability to watch one million minutes of Hulu in one day. The connection is going to be so fast, it will actually create more minutes in the day for the purposes of viewing internet video. The interesting thing about this project is that Google has put out a public RFI (Request for Information) in which they are receiving feedback from communities and governments regarding why Google should build this monster network in their respective backyards. For these kinds of speeds, Google will likely receive thousands if not millions of submissions from individuals and governments trying to convince them to choose their town.

Based on this, it is abundantly obvious to me that there is no way that any one person will be able to read through all of the RFI submissions. This means a few things. First, all submission readers at Google are going to be using different subjective criteria so there will be no good baseline for comparing an area's worthiness for this project compared to another area. Next, Google has to have a predetermined list of a few hundred cities or communities that they are already targeting for this work. It is simply not possible to read and compare all the returned RFI's, so first they will almost certainly filter on a given state/city combination so they can focus their efforts. Third, a highly coordinated effort from a community or city may have the ability to pull Google's eye away from some of the typical destinations like Boston or the Bay Area (or somewhere random but well known like hanging around with Buffett in Omaha). If they see a few thousand responses from a place like, say, metro Detroit, this may cause them to expand their focus list and make otherwise un-selectable places selectable.

In going through the reasons for Google to choose one place over another for this endeavor, I've been trying to figure out things to write that would bring metro Detroit onto Google's radar. Sure they have the office out in Ann Arbor and they are working to get the Detroit Public Schools (and other school districts) onto the common Google Apps platform, but Michigan has never really been considered a boon for technological innovation (after, say, 1980) or testing. For example, Verizon has their FiOS internet and cable service which is supposed to be amazing, but when searching for the availability in Michigan, their website essentially says "hahahahahahahahaha......never"

Then it struck me - can we beg for their pity and associated mercy? Google has always expressed visions of changing the world for the better with their technology, so how can we leverage the power of pity to convince them to build their network here, and through the power of the internet and quickly watching YouTube videos, they will be solely responsible for bringing Michigan mass transit, improving the education system, eliminating the budget gap, and turning every car on the road into a hybrid with functional brakes. There's got to be some angle here, and if pity is a selectable attribute, we should be able to take advantage of this better than most any place in the country. It's not about feeling bad about ourselves, just trying to convince others that we are worthy of their concern and unnecessarily fast internet tubes.

Only Google can save us!

1 comment:

mbrennan said...

I'll put in a good word with Larry and Sergey.