I hadn’t really thought about it until I saw a huge group of tourists clustered at my corner. As I worked my way around them, I realized that they were admiring the electronic tower on the corner of my street. No one dared go up to touch it. They were just clearly in awe, having a mystical experience.
I’m not exactly sure when they started appearing on street corners throughout Manhattan, but I do remember being in a café, atypically early, waiting to meet a friend. What does anyone do these days when confronted with a spare moment? Check email, of course. I was shocked to discover that this particular café did not have wifi. Crazy!?! As a data hoarder, I have my phone settings primed to identify open networks for me to join. That’s how I noticed an open network called LinkNYC. I immediately signed up, pledging my first born as collateral.
I know that I am electronically promiscuous. I’m sure it’s going to catch up with me someday. Although, to be honest, I’ve noticed that promiscuity does not necessarily correlate with bad outcomes. You know how it is. Bad things happen to good people. Proves my argument. Good people can be promiscuous. Or is it promiscuity is not bad. Something like that.
Again, my memory is hazy as to when the lightbulb went off that these increasingly prevalent towers were the source of free—and surprisingly reliable!—wifi for the masses. Turns out that these fairly innocuous towers offer a whole lot more. You can charge your electronics, call the NYC complaint (and complement, ha!) line at 3-1-1, and call your mom—if she lives anywhere in the US. In addition to the animated ads that occasionally flash on the wide side panels, you can figure out if your subway line is delayed (yes), where the latest reading by your favorite author is being held, what NYC could have looked like if they built the buildings they said they were going to build, and my personal favorite, fun facts about my home town.
I get it. It is pretty cool. Thank you, New York City. I love you.