New technology of hotspots brings about a new and unexpected art form

I love when the Internet does more than make what we do easier or faster, it introduces us to new things. So for a fun only post, today is an introduction to the folk poetry of network names. Andy Sturdevant is an interesting guy and writer in the Twin Cities, he recently posted an article in MinnPost on the name of wifi networks in my neighborhood. It’s a fun look at something that just didn’t exist 20 years ago.

He also make an offhand remark about living on his phone rather than the real world – a complaint I hear often about the ”next generation” – it’s a good reminder that my kid’s definition of the real world is different that mine. Who are we to make the claim when we don’t really know?

Recently, I set out through residential St. Paul to see if I could detect any patterns in the neighborhood Wi-Fi network names. My route between Macalester College and St. Catherine University was fairly arbitrary: the two schools seemed like good endpoints, though in retrospect, I ought to have chosen a route with more apartment buildings. Apartment buildings tend to have more tightly packed, publicly facing clusters of Wi-Fi, making for more density and liveliness in the names chosen. However, these neighborhoods are a good mix of businesses, apartments, duplexes and single-family homes, making for a variety of nomenclatural approaches.

So I wandered over about three or four miles, staring down at my phone nearly the entire time, taking screenshots every block or two. The list of Wi-Fi networks changes in almost real time, and I didn’t want to miss anything. I’m sure at least three or four self-righteous passers-by shook their heads as they walked by and thought, “Ah, these fatuous thirtysomethings with their faces buried in their smartphones, totally ignoring the world around them.” Not true! I was deeply engaged in the world around me, and now I pass my findings on to you.

He goes on to share a few – I’ll excerpt but it’s fun to check out them all…

However, the networks with custom names tend to fall in a few different categories.

Geography is a good place to begin. Wi-Fi routers tend to be located in very specific parts of a building. Beginning on the most micro level, a number of networks took names from their specific locations or functions within a building, as in the case of Chromecast Living Room or IA-Upstairs. Expanding from there, many were names for the house number, as in the case of the 115SnellSquad, or for the street specifically: Ashland, Stclair and lincoln.

This entry was posted in MN, New Media by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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