There are three things that can wreck any project, no matter how good its intentions: apathy, corner-cutting and ignorance. Only one of these is required to kill a project outright.
Sadly, it seems that CityNet, Metro’s initiative to build an “information infrastructure,” is suffering from all three. Fortunately, it’s not Metro’s fault, and there’s hope yet.
First, an explanation of CityNet for the uninitiated: Think of a standard two-lane road. Visualize this road running from Brentwood to San Francisco, and a second road running from San Francisco to Nashville. There are no other roads between Brentwood and Nashville, so to travel between the two places, you’ll have to visit San Francisco first, whether you like it or not.
That’s the situation Internet users in Nashville had to deal with just last year. In some cases, a message sent from one Internet provider to another across the city would have to be routed through San Francisco first.
CityNet functions just about the same as I-440 does: It is a high-speed beltway that is the shortest path between two points. It helps providers offer fast, reliable in-city communications. Nonetheless, CityNet suffers from a public relations problem. Nowhere was this more in evidence than in the packed room at the BellSouth building last Tuesday, where Metro and MCA Records held a CityNet pep talk.
Some of the biggest names from the largest recording labels in town were in attendance. The idea behind the rally was to introduce some of these labels to CityNet and get them behind the idea. Mayor Bredesen was there, offering to-the-point tutorials on the Internet to start the meeting off on the right note.
The demonstrations went well, and the excitement was reaching fever-pitch when the question and answer period began with these queries: “So, can I drop America Online if I get CityNet?” “Will AOL be faster if I go through CityNet?” “Do I buy CityNet connections from Metro?”
Patiently, CityNet workers answered each question. No, you don’t have to drop America Online for CityNetthe two are not the same thing. No, AOL will not be faster, but service here in Nashville will be. No, you can’t buy Internet access from Metro, but any provider in the city will sell you access.
There were nodded affirmations from the crowd, but no shortage of blank stares. I have no doubt that somewhere in Nashville some music industry folks are sitting around a table still wondering just what the hell CityNet really is.
With time, Metro should be able to educate people. To do that it’s going to have to start spending some money on marketing CityNet and getting its message across. Otherwise, such corner-cutting is going to result in still more apathy and ignorance.
♦ If you’ve watched “Must-See TV” within the past two weeks, you have seen the promos for an NBC movie of the week, Deadly Web. I have just a few comments to make about this...“program.”
The promotions are quite effective. Over shots of explosions, eerily-lit scenes and grimacing faces, an announcer throatily intones, “It happened to them, it could happen to you: He wants her child, and he wants her dead.”
The movie’s premise is simple: A family is stalked and terrorized by a computer assailant. It stars, among other notables, Robin Quivers of the Howard Stern radio show.
From the sensational way in which the story is pitched, one would think it is a true story. It is not. In fact, it’s not even based on a true story. In fact, it gives Mel Brooks points for accuracy in his History of the World.
Hollywood, it seems, would have us believe that our phones are bugged, our computers are unsafe, our friends are fake and only Oliver Stone knows the whole truth. It is for this reason alone that I’m ignoring this movie, hoping it will go away with nary a peep in the Nielsens to placate the network.