Petaluma’s Brave New Google World?

The story about Petaluma’s efforts to become a test city for Google’s new super high-speed Internet service was breaking about the time I was absorbing the reactions and comments to The Web Is Too Much With Us?

A few quotes from the March 4, 2010,  Argus article by Philip Riley illustrate the potential scope and size of the Google effort:

“Google says that its new ultra-high-speed network could revolutionize what is possible on the Internet, so when the company announced that it would test that network in one or more communities across the country, Petaluma jumped at the opportunity.”

“It’s almost unimaginable what types of benefits it would have,” said Tim Williamsen, the city’s information technology manager. The technology would create Internet speeds 100 times faster than the average connection, with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. Besides blazing download speeds, if the network comes to Petaluma it could bring high-tech companies, jobs and tax revenues with it, Williamsen said.”


If Petaluma is successful with its Google application, it will be a powerful and significant event for the City and for individual citizens. 

As an aside, I can now envision the jockeying for position by neighborhoods and businesses to be the first to be connected. It does not take too much imagination to conjure up several future stormy Council Meetings coping with this process. 

After all, let us not forget we are talking about Petaluma…

Whether or not Petaluma’s application is accepted, the Internet speeds contemplated by Google will eventually arrive here and elsewhere–sooner rather than later…quicker than a kitten on the keys…

  • When ultra high-speed service becomes generally available, will we have the collective and individual wisdom to use it to enhance rather than control our lives?
  • If Petaluma is selected as a Google test city, will the way we adapt and adopt it serve as a model for others?

On one level, these are more difficult questions to answer than the “hows” of the engineering,  technical, and construction work required to install it.

Remember the cautions offered in the comments to The Web Is Too Much With Us?

  • “… I have learned that in today’s world it is almost impossible to have “private” and “special” moments…”
  • “…there is more to life than virtual reality and trivia overload, that there is strength and grace and understanding in reflective solitude.”
  • “…It is imperative that everyone multitask at all times. The thought of “quiet time” is actually frightening to many. The idea of having to come to grips with their inner self by spending time reflecting is not on the radar of activities.”
  • “…(We have to know when to) Turn it off. Disconnect from the web of chatter and noise and indulge your soul in the absolute bliss of silence. You can always plug in again later.”
  • “…I need a regular dose of good, old-fashioned interpersonal communication and eye to eye contact to keep me on track and in touch.”
  • “…Technology is a tool, not a lifestyle.”

Playing off the last comment, I turn now to another cautionary 21st Century tweet from William Wordsworth…

If needs must

The Web is too much with us

If  tools

 make the rules…