Potrero Hill SF (my hood, and apparently, tech-weenie-ville) blog points us to a new device/service/app called PlaceSite, which basically helps people who are physically close to one another - say, in a cafe - but don't know each other, to communicate with each other. We love this idea - mostly for its possible activist/organizing potential.
We did go to Axis Cafe - which is really nice - and we did try PlaceSite. Its heart was in the right place, but the connectivity sucked. We don't know if that had to do with the use of this PlaceSite stuff or not. Still, we hope PlaceSite succeeds.
UPDATE: Did some more reading. PlaceSite is built upon - or is a customized version of - WiFiDog. WiFiDog itself is an improvement upon - though, a total rewrite it seems - of the 'NoCat' series of projects/products. The NoCat name is interesting:
Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio, replied:
"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."
Very interesting stuff, this 'captive portal' stuff. Many folks will be familiar with this concept if you've ever stayed at a hotel with paid wifi - or even free wifi - when you open your browser, the very first page you see, regardless of what your home page URL is (say, 'http://www.yahoo.com/'), is the home page for the hotel. That's basically a captive portal.