The Mtn. View WiLap Project .. WiFi & Laptops — A National Emergency


Dear ZYX ,

   This is a draft about getting laptops to all K-12 Mountain View students to go along with Google's wonderful WiFi. I first sent out  these urgent preliminary considerations on MLK’s birthday because I see WiFi-Laptops as a civil rights issue among other more materialistic urgencies.

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The Mtn. View WiLap Project .. WiFi & Laptops — A National Emergency  


   We will come to see that our greatest national emergency and urgency is getting our nation wi-fied and laptopped. The WiLap Project.

   The WiLap – WiFi & Laptops – Project is the Manhattan Project; the Moon Shot; the Interstate Highway System; and the Tennessee Valley Electrification of our own time.

   Google is <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />wifi-ingMountain View California (pop 70,000) in the Spring of 2006. As water isn’t much use to you without a bucket, I am proposing that we equip each Mountain View student K-12 with a laptop by May 2007. Mountain View would be a model & beta test for working out the bugs in how to WiFi & Laptop our country by May 2011. The heart of Silicon Valley is perfect for this beta test.  


   Our ability to grok or deeply understand this urgent WiFi & Laptops project, to focus on it, and to mobilize our resources upon it will spell a prosperous, vigorous, innovative future for our children, or if we fail the challenge, a diminished, fading role for Americans on the creativity stage of 21st century history.

   Terrorism is not the key challenge or danger of our time. This is a misunderstanding and distraction from what actually imperils our future. Consider that while we are spending $820,000 per minute on our Military Budget and an additional $200,000 per minute on Iraq, South Korea has 75% broadband penetration (across all social classes) and that their ultra-broadband is 10 times faster than our best. You might imagine us as the last Tyrannosaurus Rex — hugely well-armed, thundering through the jungle — who doesn’t realize that the quiet and quick lemurs win.

    If we re-allocate a portion of this $820,000 per minute/Military Budget plus the $200,000 per minute/Iraq into the WiFi-Laptops Project, we will ultra-charge our American future with all these connected minds. Education will remain centered in physical school buildings for many social reasons, but education will be giga-enhanced by being detached from the brick buildings.


There are 8000 K-12 students in Mountain View. MIT has developed a $100 laptop for distribution abroad to the underprivileged – an utterly excellent idea. However, our own country is backwards and third-world in this giga-Connected regard. We have to swallow our denial, our unconscious habit of pride if not hubris, and get urgent.


Notes & Tidbits:

It is not really possible to ‘share’ a computer any more than it’s possible to share an eyeball or a contact lens. 


Dial-up is hopeless. Dial-up is like before microwave ovens. Or like running a three-legged sack-race. It is terminally frustrating.


WiFi alone is like trying to fly with one wing.


My preliminary thought is to begin with 7th grade and go down and up the grades as quickly as possible.


It would take about 5 minutes of our Military/Iraq budget to get Mountain View outfitted with K-12 laptops and support systems. Our nation has the resources to make this urgent transition to an innovative future, but we must have the vision.


Some parents will be worried about whether their child will get sucked into some ‘dreadful world of pornography.’ That certainly can be addressed in some V-Chip fashion – probably an inerasable history that a parent can check.


For those not yet lucky enough to have broadband and their very own computer, it’s hard to describe how stunningly enhanced your life & thinking & learning experiences can be. Because a broadband-computer is so intimately tailored to your curiosities, you learn 100 times as fast. Curiosity-fuelled learning is not in fact linear. The astonishing search engines like Google allow you to have immediate access to the best minds on Keats, say, or articles on gamma ray bursts.  


We need to always ask how we can work out any snag in the Mtn. view WiLap Project. I’m not interested in wasting time on all the reasons why we can’t do this project. We must do it, so how?


   I’m grateful that I worked on 3 SF Giants baseball team campaigns. I learned there that you can have common-urgency campaigns in which people set aside their own even rabid politics and religions for a great good.

   Recall that the greatest scientist Newton was also a devoted alchemist and astrologer – all of us need to stay on point and ignore the others’ heresies – which is really just heated dinner conversation.

   Our day job as adults is to urgently facilitate WiLap for our children so they can join the future – otherwise they are flower seeds in parched earth who never get to bloom because we squabble about our old old battles.


  WiLap is the civil rights of our time. Equal access to broadband and a personal computer is like the lunch counter back when. There can be absolutely no discrimination in access to these brain-enhancing tools. It would never occur to you to starve your child. We are starving American children as I write this. Every day we delay puts them farther behind.




ps. I need to know from you suggestions of who to begin to talk to about this WiLap Project. Who could love the vision & put up the money? A George Soros-type person. Or several. I’ll ask anyone. Shy I ain’t.




LH ..


Thanks re forwarding to supt. of schools. The more people who begin to think about this the better. Mountain View could make education history. America better make education history or we will be left in the knowledge-evolution dust. We have to think boldly out of the box. Education needs to declare its urgent national security claims on some significant portion of the $820,000 per minute of the Military Budget (& the additional $200,000 per minute we're pouring into the sands of Iraq).


If we don't do this Education Quantum leap, then the rich get richer. Which is to say that children of parents who can afford laptops get to become knowledge-enhanced (the new cogno-evolution vs bio-evolution), and the poor children get more dependent and dimmed in hope, and the nation gets impoverished materially and innovationally.


It's actually quite 'desperate' in fact, but I'm sticking with 'urgent' for the time being.


Please do let me know if there is someone in the Mtn View education hierarchy who would bleed technology? Or if there is a meeting I can come to and speak for 5 minutes?


I plan to talk to AR, principal of the private VVV, soon. They have laptops for each 6th, 7th, & 8th grade desk.






4 thoughts on “The Mtn. View WiLap Project .. WiFi & Laptops — A National Emergency

  1. Once you see that the future is inexorably woven with enhanced access to knowledge, America's paralysis and/or blindness on the wifi and laptop issue is in stark relief.
    Every child without broadband speed and her/his own computer is being rapidly left behind.

  2. I fully support the initiative, but I still worry about the quality of information the kids get once they have access. I'm not talking about adult content, etc., it's more that education needs to look different.
    Consumers of information need even better capacities to sort through and evaluate information. Some schools teach it, most don't.

  3. I completely agree that America is paralyzed and that we have to teach kids how to evaluate information.
    I think it'll be easier to get them to evaluate information when much more of their information is actually tailored to their (hopefully ramifying) curiosities.

  4. I concur with your notion of sharing a computer as being like sharing a contact lens. In the bad old days of computer sharing chez moi, there was simmering, brooding, bilious resentment day after night after day.

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