Add the city of Paris to the municipal Wi-Fi revolution.
If Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has his way, free wireless Internet soon will be in public places throughout the city – including the cafe haunts on the Left Bank where the master of the chiseled phrase used to write longhand in small black notebooks.
While it might be a little hard to imagine Hemingway writing A Farewell to Arms on a laptop, Delanoe is betting that le Wi-Fi (pronounced wee-fee here) is one of many changes in Paris that will attract creative spirits as well as legions of young people who might otherwise flee the tradition-bound city for places closer to the cutting edge.
Delanoe, 56, a socialist with strong views about how to make Paris competitive in the 21st century, has been reshaping the city’s image since he was elected the French capital’s first openly gay mayor in 2001. He wants to make Paris greener, more high- tech, less uptight.
“Paris is extremely strong when it is most welcoming,” Delanoe told a news magazine shortly after his election. Previous mayors and the national government, he said, had “museumified” the city.
His goal is both to attract young people, some of whom have chosen to move to London for employment, and to attract new business, which increasingly looks to Eastern Europe or the Far East.
“We can’t leave Asian cities like Seoul or Tokyo, or American cities like San Francisco or Philadelphia, to make the running (to dominate) in digital matters,” Delanoe said earlier this year when he announced plans to create 400 free wireless hotspots.
I forget what the technical term is for what Mayor Delanoe has in mind here – ideopolis, I think – but I’ll leave that to folks like Tory to comment on. Y’all know that I love seeing more Wi-Fi access in more places, so I’m just happy to note this for the record.