Monday, April 20, 2009

My Bit for Broadband at Every Massachusetts Town Library!

Tuesday evening, as I was getting ready for my monthly meeting about lack of coverage by Verizon for high speed internet access - on my road and many others in the small hilltown I live in, I got a phone call from Boston's Logan Airport. A man asked me if I would be willing to be filmed for a "library technology summit" to be held in Massachusetts at the beginning of May. He works for Connected Nation and was working on a presentation to be shown to public officials and librarians. He had heard about me from Jessica who works for the local Pioneer Valley Connect.

You all know how I still have dial-up. The longer I have it, the more frustrated I become, knowing that most of the USA does have high speed internet access. My frustration became even more amplified in December when Verizon hooked up many of the residents of my small town. They passed my road by and have no plans to bring the service here, as far as my neighbors and I can tell. You can read more about this here. A few of us who have been passed by have formed a local group to see if somehow, some way, we can get Verizon to move on bringing us high speed internet access.

I have had to move my professional life forward. Writing books requires me to have an active visual blog and recently I have been making some video tutorials. Needless to say, it is pretty impossible to do all this with dial-up. When Bernardston's Cushman Library staff started talking about getting broadband WIFI for patrons, I became excited to say the least. About a year ago, they got this service and I bought myself a laptop so I could use their WIFI. I sit in my car, outside the library in the snow, in the heat, early and late in the day and do what I need to do with their high speed internet access. I can't believe how much easier this has made my life and time spent on the internet - even if I have to drive 20 minutes one way to the town next door. I usually combine my "library-high speed access" trip with errands to the post office, the grain store, and the general store so it works for me. The WIFI at Bernardston's library has made me become more tech savvy and I have been able to develop new products for posting and selling on the internet. I can download large files for proof reviews, I can up-load video and graphic files to be printed. None of this is possible with dial-up.

Last week, two lovely young men from Nashville, TN came with a whole car-load of camera, sound and lighting equipment and I told my story. The Gates Foundation has funded a grant to bring high speed internet access to every Massachusetts local library. They are going to play my story for local librarians and public officials so that they can see how important having high speed internet access is for all town libraries.


Although I was very busy with a book deadline, I had to do this. I feel so strongly that every citizen in the USA should have high speed internet access - if they want it. I'm still bewildered and maddened that Verizon didn't come down our road. I liken not having high speed access to the internet in 2009 to not being able to get indoor plumbing or telephone service in the last century. We may live in the country, but we are very 21st century here. There are so many self-employed people living in western Massachusetts who depend on the internet for keeping their lives going. WIthout high speed internet service, it is incredibly difficult to compete in the wired world of 2009.

I hope my little bit will help convince librarians and public officials that having high speed internet access is important for every small town's library - even in this time of small towns not wanting to fund their libraries - but that's another post which I plan to write about shortly!

14 comments:

mb. said...

kind of a side bar but when I was growing up (say 30 or so years ago) cable tv was new (no, really) & one cable company underbid all the others to provide our town with service. Anyway, one neighborhood had only one or two families that wanted cable (no, really) so they decided they would not be providing cable to that neighborhood & well, one of those families did not take well to it. They sued (arguing that the cable company was excluding other potential providers & then not providing the service themselves or something) & won. It was in Bloomfield, CT & the case was Shuster vs. ??? Cable. I am not the biggest fan of do-what-I-want-or-I-will-sue but maybe there is a morsel there that might help.

marit said...

I think a wellfunctioning, high speed phone/internetconnection is even MORE important in rural areas than in bigger cities with internettcafes and libraries on "every" corner...
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am sorely ashamed of Verizon as we have been customers from the beginning. So my thoughts and blessings to you. 35 years ago, we moved from the D.C. area, to rural Wyoming--7 miles outside Cheyenne, WY, the capitol. We had a party line of all things--4 short rings. This went on till the Feds said no, uh uh. One day my father-in-law called from Iowa and said right off "4 short?" Good luck. Have one of your books and love it. Helen, Cheyenne, where there are no more party lines, and I do have high speed.

Leslie said...

I notice that guy from Verizon didn't respond to your blog post this time. I assume he never got back to you either - I know he didn't to me. Life in rural Massachusetts is wonderful but this lack of affordable broadband is just so unfair.

Let's hope The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can help out here.

Melissa said...

I feel your pain. We live 60 miles due west of Washington DC. There is high speed access in our local towns but not in our part of the county. Fortunately I have high speed access at work and do all my blogging and viewing from my office. But we run a non-profit arts organization and the economy is eating us up & spitting us out. We would like to plan to work from home more - but that won't be feasible without high speed internet access.

So many of the things that I am frustrated by in this country and about money.

Lesley said...

Kristin — I can't believe what I've just read!
And you're probably not that far out of Boston, or any number of big cities.
Here in Australia, our smart young Prime Minister has just unveiled plans to have every household in the whole country connected to optic-fibre broadband in eight years.
The federal government will build it. The project (about $42 billion AUS) will be partly private and then eventually the government-owned portion — probably around 50% — will be privatised.
This would deliver 100MB a second — which sounds amazing until you hear about South Korea, whose citizens already have that facility and are updating and improving it to deliver 1GB a second.

I think you may be the last person I've ever heard of with dial-up.

mascanlon said...

I have been reading for a while and just can't imagine dial up. At this point I would give up cable TV before high speed internet! If you need us to write someone on your behalf..just let us know...oh and shame on Verizon!

Vermont Designs said...

Verizon sold out to Fairpoint here in Vt. Still no high speed, but lots of promises. Our Gov has also promised every Vermonter will have broadband by 2010. I just couldn't wait and was able to get Comcast to hook us up last fall. What an amazing difference from years of dial-up!

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Download_manager

You should look into a download manager. The link above describes what it can do for a slow connection to the internet.

Chris said...

Good for you for getting involved!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for doing this - when I'm not knitting and reading your blog I am a librarian responsible for providing high speed wireless access for four rural counties - and I'm going to the Gates summit in our state (Virginia) next month. I live deep in the country (one of two places on a three mile long dirt road) so I will probalby never have high speed Internet access, so I, like you, will be dependent on my library. Again - thank you!

Roy said...

Kristin, it was a pleasure meeting with you last week. We're in the editing process as we speak, and I can't wait to share your story with the rest of the state. I hope it helps initiate some real change in rural Massachusetts.

Janet said...

A very interesting post. Good luck to you and all rural or small town libraries. Libraries are notoriously underfunded - I am just back from Seattle where I feel they have a very good public library system but actually it is underfunded. I signed a petition in the local bookstore to support more funding for the library system.

Janet, retired librarian living in Ireland. I have broadband access here in Dublin but I know there are still many parts of Ireland which still only have dial-up.

Ginga said...

I love your blog - thanks for sharing so much of your life!

As a youth media educator, I am always an advocate for public information, libraries, and access to technology for everyone.

One thing that I recently got into was a mobile broadband card - it's like a roaming modem. I can take it many places in the country and keep my signal, because it is about cell technology, not DSL wireless. If you have cell phone towers near you, this might be an option - costs about the same as DSL, and is a little slower. I have a feeling cell phone technology will outpace standard internet and cable soon, though I am no expert. Good Luck!