Today is August 2, 2011 — or 08.02.11, which geeks the world over are proclaiming as “Wi-Fi Day,” paying homage to the IEEE spec 802.11 which defines wireless networks.
I vividly remember the first time I used a wireless network. In the spring of 2003, I was working as a student worker in a computer lab at Lander University in Greenwood, SC, and our lab had gotten a test access point and PC Card adapters (remember those?). Imagine my amazement when I put in the card, installed the drivers, and was online. It was, in a sense, magical. No being tethered to a network cable (or a modem, for that matter). It was so incredible that when I left for the summer I demanded my parents get a cable modem and wireless equipment for the house — and the rest was history. I haven’t lived in a Wi-Fi-less place since — who would want to?
I challenge you to think of another technology that’s had more of an impact on our culture than Wi-Fi over the last 10 years. Without Wi-Fi, mobile adoption of social networking would likely have been stunted. Wireless connectivity — especially Wi-Fi — has likely been a huge part of why Apple is successful again. (Imagine the first EDGE-only iPhone without the Wi-Fi option — yuck!) The tablet computer is likely not even a thought without wireless networking.
Many of us take Wi-Fi for granted now, but it has brought us — and will continue to help bring us — wonderful new technologies that build on top of it. So here’s to you, Wi-Fi, on 08.02.11. Thanks for being there for me (most of the time, when I’m in range).