Everybody wants some

by Brian Clarey

If the internet is the new opiate of the masses, then the high-speed internet service that Google is trotting out must be like some form of crack — if the public reaction is to be believed.

Google Fiber promises to be 100 times faster than DSL or cable.

From the Google Fiber website: “We plan to test ultrahigh speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Our networks will deliver internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second… at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.” And they’re asking for requests for information from any city interested with a March 26 deadline.

The concept is positively Wonkian: a nationwide talent search that has already enticed the mayor of Duluth, Minn. to jump into Lake Superior and the mayor of Topeka, Kan. to change the name of the town to Google for the month of March. There has been a pep rally in Madison, Wis., a flash mob in Grand Rapids, Mich., a parade in Nevada City, Calif. The ploy has ensnared elected officials, citizen techies, newspaper editorial boards and others seemingly aching to get a piece of the Google brand In the Triad Greensboro has launched “Operation Google,” a government initiative with $50,000 earmarked for the project. Our active corps of bloggers and technical-minded folks has chimed in with their own efforts.

Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight has yet to be heard from on the initiative, but Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines announced on Monday, perhaps a dollar short and a day late, the city’s intention to file for the service.

Google, as most people know, was conceived by two Stanford University grad students in 1996 as a revolutionary search-engine model utilizing backlinks instead of search terms on a page, resulting in sophisticated algorithmic formulations. It went public in August 2005, with shares fetching an IPO of $85. A share of GOOG today runs about $580.

The company has also been innovative in its creation of free products for the web, like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps and a slew of others.

The company is also known for pulling massive hoaxes and April Fools Day jokes, starting in 2000 when they introduced “MentalPlex” search technology that could supposedly read the users’ minds. In 2002 they said that pigeons were responsible for page rank on the search engine. In 2004 they offered jobs in a research center on the moon. There was the smart drink, Google Gulp, in 2005; Google Romance, a random dating site, in 2005; Gmail Paper, which purported to print out your e-mails and archive them, in 2007. Their pranks in 2009 included making a fake “generate book report” button for Google Books, implementing a Google Mobile “Brain Search” function where one could index one’s own brain by holding a cel phone to one’s forehead, and flipping YouTube upside down for a day.

Anyway, don’t forget to have your applications in by March 26, America. Google Fiber awaits!

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