Wi-Fi Survey – How do you use Wi-Fi (wireless Internet) technology?


OSU Wi-Fi Survey: How do you use wireless Internet

As part of the research project for my master, I am conducting an online survey on how people understand and use Wi-Fi technologies.

The goal of the survey is to help improve the design of Wi-Fi by collecting various user experiences.

Whether you have used it only once or use it everyday, every experience you had with Wi-Fi is valuable to this research and I will appreciate if you would take the time to answer my online survey.

The survey is 6-12 min depending on your experience with Wi-Fi and do not require any technical expertise to be answered.

Click here to take the Wi-Fi survey


Visit to Stanford Law School: Wifi and the law

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I was down in the Bay Area two weeks ago mostly in order to meet some people to discuss research. My first stop was at the Stanford School of Law where I was hoping to get some more literature on the legal aspects of telecommunication laws related to WiFi. After spending a couple of hours at the library, I (and the librarian) figured that the information I was looking for was not yet publicly available.

My goal was to find as much information as possible on the case Richard Dinon vs Benjamin Smith III for WiFi trespassing (more info here or here). I believe this case is the first of the kind where somebody get sued for trespassing because he is using somebody else open WiFi connection without permission. The case may be still in progress or has been settled but there has apparently been no update available anywhere since last July.

I was also hoping to find more regulation and legal literature about wireless networking but it looks like I already found most of the ones specifically related to WiFi (there is not that much yet).

Since I was on site, I passed by the Center for Internet and Society to see if I could get some more information. I ended getting an appointment with Professor Lawrence Lessig, who gave me some really good pointers and was especially helpful in sorting through some of the issues and reducing the complexity of my project.

One of the problem I was facing was: how can I design a system where people can retrieve information about whether or not they are allowed to connect to a wireless network while they are offline. The easy way felt like a Catch 22: To know if you were allowed to connect, you would have to connect and get the information from the Internet. Therefore, you could possibly be breaking the law for the sole purpose to know if what you are doing (or planning to do) is legal.

But apparently if the intent and only purpose of the initial connection was to retrieve information on your right to connect then this would not be considered illegal. Professor Lessig recommended me to read Order without Law : How Neighbors Settle Disputes which should give me a better understanding of how this would work.

He also recommended me to look into RDF and the InfoCard research on an identity metasystem to use in my design.

So , even if I didn’t have time to really visit the rest of the Stanford campus, the trip was more than worth it.


Stanford Campus – Flickr Album

Fon Wi-Fi gets support from Google and Skype to build a (sort of) wireless freenet


As I am doing research on the interaction design issues with wireless networking, I have been particularly interested in seeing how the story with Fon will evolve. I first reported on Fon in October before they launched and I have seen that the movement was gaining some momentum even before being officially launched. but then, I figured out that the solution they were offering was not that novel — Robert Cringely reports on a micro franchisee business model that looks pretty similar — . Experts in the field of wireless and broadband were questioning it too (see Om Malik, Glenn Fleishman).FON wireless

Now that Fon has get major financial backing by company like Google or Skype, this changes the situation. Not only are they getting money but also a lot of free marketing with nearly any major publications talking about Fon. Glenn and OM Malik have posted a nice update on the situation.

I believe that we need to come up with a solution to offer an unified and enriched user experience in regard to wireless networking. The question that stands is not if it is going to happen (I believe it will) but how and when it will happen.

Fon has definitely an opportunity to get it right and has partners that can help it . But there are still major obstacles for it to become successful.


The number of hotspots is not directly linked to the value of the network. While Metcalfe’s Law

The value of a network equals approximately the square of the number of users of the system (n2) (Wikipedia)


IT@Home: Unraveling Complexities of Networked Devices in the Home

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My position paper has been accepted for a second Workshop at CHI: IT@Home: Unraveling Complexities of Networked Devices in the Home .
I will present the interaction design side of my research on end-user networking and the issues and opportunities with multiple channels to access information.

CHI 2006 - Montreal

  • How can we move from a device (or connectivity) centered approach (for ex: using a mobile phone, TV or Wi-Fi ) to a activity centered approach (watching a video, accessing securly a bank statement)?
  • How can we help turn network connectivity consumers into producers (similarly to what has been done in digital media for example)?
  • How can we help users have an optimal unified experience despite technologies like DRM, network neutrality,….
  • How do we design networking technologies to better account for information asymmetry or bounded rationality..


Workshop at CHI: IT@Home: Unraveling Complexities of Networked Devices in the Home

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A workshop at CHI 2006 in Montreal that matches my research topics. Submission deadline of position papers has been extended to Jan 16th.

IT@Home: Unraveling Complexities of Networked Devices in the Home
CHI 2006 Workshop

Call for Participation

The home is becoming a complex and hard to manage collection of
computers and digital lifestyle devices. The work to setup and
maintain a network of digital living devices in the home is similar
to the work of IT professionals. Indeed the growing complexity of
interconnected digital devices results in more and more time spent
solving problems with those devices and their configurations, an
important part of computer use that we call “IT@Home”. The workshop
will be structured to consider four areas of focus:

  • Perspectives – How should we consider IT@Home? What theories
    apply to IT@Home?
  • Problem Framing – What are critical problems in IT@Home?
  • Empirical Study – Case studies and examples of effectively
    studying home IT.
  • Design – What are some critical design issues for IT@Home?

Contributions to these conceptual areas that are illustrated through
data and case studies will be valued by researchers, designers,
product teams and market analysts through the coming years.

Individuals interested in participating in this full-day workshop
should submit a position paper on IT@Home that addresses one of the
four areas listed above. Position papers should be limited to 4
pages. Submissions in PDF or Word should be sent to David McDonald
dwmc at u.washington.edu by Monday, January 16, 2006. Notifications of
acceptance to the workshop will be made in early February 2006.

For more information on the workshop please visit:
IT@Home: Unraveling Complexities of Networked Devices in the Home
CHI 2006 Workshop

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