Sunday, August 08, 2010

Whither Wi-Fi Watering Holes?

Folks who have read this blog for any length of time may recall my fondness for coffee houses that have free wi-fi. They furnish a nice oasis for work if I have to toil over the weekend -- I can take a trip out and still get work done. I haven't blogged about them for a while, because I haven't discovered any new ones of note recently.

If this article (,0,2492467.story) is to be believed, coffee houses have been unplugging free wi-fi en masse, because (a) folks abusing the privilege hog long tables all day long, depriving other potential customers of places to sit, sip, and sup; and (b) now that Starbucks offers unlimited free wi-fi (as of last month), offering the same service is less of a customer draw.

Of course, there's some reason to doubt that the trend is as widespread as the article suggests. Although this is a Los Angeles Times article, the article does not list many L.A. coffee houses that are turning off the wi-fi and turning out the users. The reporter goes as far afield as San Francisco and Seattle to find examples. That suggests the reporter is inflating the significance of what he's reporting a bit.

And any article that features a college professor expounding, "The coffeehouse is a manifestation of our desire for that connection to community and more vibrant life than in our homes," is probably just an attempt to fill column inches on a Sunday.

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