Google’s Internet project draws lots of attention

I logged on to Google on April Fool’s Day last week and was stunned to see “Topeka” plastered across the top of the popular search engine Web site.

At first, I thought it was an announcement declaring Topeka, Kansas as the winner of Google’s search for a city to wire with highspeed Internet, but it wasn’t. It was just another brilliant marketing scheme by one of the world’s most successful companies and Burlington doesn’t want anything to do with the online giant.

The April Fool’s prank was in response to Topeka changing the official name of its city to Google for the month of March in order to entice Google into selecting Topeka for its citywide Internet experiment. The name change came a few days before Burlington’s City Council decided to avoid the competition all together despite neighbors in Greensboro and Raleigh joining the quest.

A Raleigh city councilman actually offered up the naming rights to his unborn child to Google’s cofounders as incentive and while covering the ACC Tournament in Greensboro last month, a few t-shirts with “GoogleGreensboro” across the front caught my attention. The city is putting $10,000 into its marketing campaign because its leaders understand how b

I logged on to Google on April Fool’s Day last week and was stunned to see “Topeka” plastered across the top of the popular search engine Web site.

At first, I thought it was an announcement declaring Topeka, Kansas as the winner of Google’s search for a city to wire with highspeed Internet, but it wasn’t. It was just another brilliant marketing scheme by one of the world’s most successful companies and Burlington doesn’t want anything to do with the online giant.

The April Fool’s prank was in response to Topeka changing the official name of its city to Google for the month of March in order to entice Google into selecting Topeka for its citywide Internet experiment. The name change came a few days before Burlington’s City Council decided to avoid the competition all together despite neighbors in Greensboro and Raleigh joining the quest.

A Raleigh city councilman actually offered up the naming rights to his unborn child to Google’s cofounders as incentive and while covering the ACC Tournament in Greensboro last month, a few t-shirts with “GoogleGreensboro” across the front caught my attention. The city is putting $10,000 into its marketing campaign because its leaders understand how beneficial being chosen will be.

I seriously doubt that Burlington residents would have ever seen “Burlington” embedded on Google’s homepage. And you certainly couldn’t do a “Burlington search,” or log onto your “Burlmail” account or look for pictures on “Burlington Images.” If you “Burlington’ed” instead of Googled my name, you probably would come up empty. It all sounds silly right? Well, not really.

With all the silly pranks aside, being selected for Google’s Internet experiment will create jobs and spur all sorts of innovation that will draw national attention. Google wants to build a super-high-speed broadband network for an entire community. In doing so, Google wants to see what happens when everyone in a community has access to affordable Internet that will be 100 times faster than what most use today.

I think it will do great things for the winning city, like improve local health care, enhance learning environments for children. It would boost the local economy by enticing new business to come to town for the one-of-a-kind Internet service.

Burlington’s opposition is understandable. In order to compete with other cities it will cost money, which clearly isn’t available. Hundreds of other cities are competing and the odds are slim that Burlington would have won. But, it couldn’t have hurt to try and bring new jobs and new technology to the area. It also would have been nice if the city council had taken a survey of residents to see if people and businesses were interested, but they didn’t. I think that, in reality, they were unfamiliar with Google’s success and business strategy.

This can be used as a lesson that Burlington needs to adapt and catch up to other cities around the country when it comes to technology and the Internet. Being a part of the interactive media world is a necessity in today’s marketplace and if Burlington doesn’t catch up, it will be on the outside looking in.

Online editor Alex Kreitman can be reached at akreitman@thetimesnews.com. You can also read his sports blog  at alexkreitman.freedomblogging.com.

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