Two excellent articles in the blogosphere really spoke to me today - pretty directly about what I and my wife Tina are trying to accomplish with Stroh Publications, and my reinvigorated independent writing / consulting career writing and consulting in-depth about Broadband Wireless Internet Access.
The first was Om Malik, whose writing I greatly respect, especially his book Broadbandandits, and most recently his small, independent, tech blogging company called GigaOmniMedia, Inc. GigaOm is a bigger version, with broad coverage of the tech industry, of what Tina and I are trying to bootstrap Stroh Publications into - with a focus on Broadband Wireless Internet Access.
Om was lamenting the rumored demise of Business 2.0 Magazine and wrote:
... I did some of my best work for Business 2.0, working hard, not because those Time Warner options were going to make me rich, but because I believed in the magazine. What a fool as I was – in the end it was a business, managed and remotely from a glass cocooned Manhattan tower – where they don’t know a thing about passionate readers, or communities or the fact that their world is no longer theirs. I hope, I never forget this lesson, as I build my little company.
The second article was by Esme Vos, who I also respect tremendously for what she's accomplished with MuniWireless.com. In her personal technology blog Pajama Entrepreneur , Esme commented on Om's article and recounted her motivations for starting MuniWireless.com:
I did not start blogging about citywide Wi-Fi to make money. At the time I started it, I wanted to solve a problem: how to aggregate all the information about muni Wi-Fi projects in one place so that cities, vendors, service providers and journalists could easily find it. That’s it. It was a passion and still is. I am opinionated because I want ubiquitous wireless broadband that’s fast, cheap and good. For everyone not just people who can afford $80 per month subscriptions.
Large media companies seem to be controlled by machines crunching numbers. It’s never about the audience, never about a passion to bring something valuable to people. It’s about those numbers. Never mind if they print garbage including stories about celebrities, as long as they can run endless numbers of ads around them. If their publications fail, good riddance.
Reading Om and Esme really gave voice to my motivations for doing what I've done for ten years now. I write about Broadband Wireless Internet Access because I am passionate that BWIA completely changes the paradigm of wired/wireline Broadband Internet Access. BWIA technology and systems mean that the incumbent monopoly providers who control the existing telecommunications infrastructure, (wireline) rights of way, and dominate the thinking of lawmakers and regulators no longer have a monopoly on electronic communications. While the Internet profoundly changes things... all of the wonderful capabilities of the Internet doesn't do a person any good unless they 1) can get Broadband Internet Access at all (and a large part of the world cannot, at present), and 2) they can afford that access, and 3) it's unfiltered - the service provider doesn't decide what you can and cannot do with your connection to the Internet.
In a phrase, Broadband Wireless Internet Access technology and systems level the playing field of telecommunications. BWIA technology has evolved enough, is good enough, is affordable enough that individuals can now build their own networks when that's necessary or desireable - in their buildings, in their neighborhoods, in their communities and there's not much the incumbent telecommunications companies can do to stop them. BWIA makes it possible for individuals, small groups, not-for-profit organizations, entrepreneurial companies like Wireless Internet Service Providers, local governments, and even entirely new carriers to all offer Broadband Internet Access, all in full-blown competition with each other. In the end, competition keeps companies "honest".
For more than ten years now I've seen all that BWIA makes possible in providing individuals and businesses better, cheaper, and often the only access to the wonders of the Internet. Nothing else I've encountered in my professional life has excited me as much as BWIA. Perhaps that's because I see that there's room for me to contribute, in at least a small way, to enhancing humanity's chances for growing as an intelligent species, and helping the humans of the world understand and communicate better with each other.
So, I understand Om and Esme completely when they say what they do is all about passion, not about money. I've written (passionately, always, sometimes too much so) for money (and much wider readership than this humble blog) but now those "money" operations - publications, web sites, companies, and many, many good people are long gone from the BWIA industry. But I'm still here, writing about BWIA, saying things that I think need to be said - not merely "following the money" and saying what will attract money.
Passion about BWIA drives me to keep going, contributing in my own way. I do hope that money will follow at some point- that would certainly make life, work, and continuing to contribute much easier... but in the end, writing about Broadband Wireless Internet Access isn't about mere money... and that puts me way, way ahead of the competition.
By Steve Stroh
This article is Copyright © 2007 by Steve Stroh
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