Data Science, Project Description, Social Justice, Techy Babble

LinkNYC – a project and also why aren’t laypeople given the chance to understand the Internet?

I’ve become keenly aware of New York City’s aggressive, aptly-named “LinkNYC” campaign to revamp old, pee-soaked telephone booths by making them into free public Wi-Fi hotspots featuring advertised speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

Prompted by his response to my audible “holy shit,” I explained the situation (in hindsight, using unnecessarily technical electrical engineering terms like data rate and fiber optics) to my boyfriend (civil engineer turned brilliant artist/designer/philosopher).

His response: “huh?” A quick text to my family confirmed that, no, this type of thing is not, in fact, common knowledge.

Then literally the next day, I realized that I’d been seeing gigantic banners on the subway every morning  that spelled out “1 GIG, THE INTERNET SPEED YOUR MOTHER WARNED YOU ABOUT.”

Whoa now copywriters (are those still the people who do ads? this is the one thing I remember from Mad Men), WATERYEWDEWING. I know the implications of that internet speed, and I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE THE AD. How on earth is a person who hasn’t experienced the pleasures of communication theory, digital signal processing, and wireless communications courses supposed to have any idea of what that means or why they should care?

Isn’t it a bit strange that most of us spend a good portion of our time online, yet have nearly no understanding about what goes on beyond the router?

enter new project!

So thanks to that little revelation, aforementioned boyfriend and I are collaborating on the creation of an infographic that will bring some perspective to the initiative for the averagely techy New Yorker.


  1. Decide to communicate the meanings of Internet speeds
  2. Do this by researching the Internet speed requirements of comparative use cases (eg. Netflix vs web browsing)
  3. Decide to also communicate the impact of LinkNYC on the prevalence of public wifi hotspots
  4. Do this by locating* a map detailing where non-LinkNYC and LinkNYC public wifi hotspots are located
    • *Make a map that details where non-LinkNYC and LinkNYC public wifi hotspots are located using NYC open data
  5. Realize that the spread of LinkNYCs on a map looks eerily similar to a gentrification map you saw one time
  6. Decide to also communicate the potential for implications of LinkNYCs and other public wifi locations with respect to class and race disparity
  7. Do this by planning for lots of approximations and printing and drawing to determine the number of non-LinkNYC and LinkNYC public hotspots per neighborhood divided into categories based on average income bracket
  8. Drink some wine
  9. Decide to go home, write a blog post, and go to bed.

Stay tuned for our infographic!


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