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Organizers deem Saturday's flash mob to woo Google a success

Sunday, March 7, 2010 | 6:08 p.m. CST

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was produced by CoMo Fiber, a group advocating for Columbia to test Google's high-speed Internet service.

COLUMBIA — Organizers said a flash mob planned by CoMo Fiber for Saturday afternoon's Missouri basketball game was successful in drawing attention to Columbia and its quest for fiber.

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Google plans to test a new high-speed network in trial communities across the country. The service is said to be 100 times faster then average Internet providers. The company is encouraging all interested communities to submit a form to determine where they should build their network, according to their Web site.

The flash mob, which took place at the first time out at the second half of the game, was designed to raise community awareness about Google's offer to bring a high-speed fiber-optic internet service to Columbia. CoMo Fiber, a group advocating for Columbia to be included in the trial, distributed 11,000 signs to be displayed during the timeout to raise community support.

A "Google" chant never quite got off the ground, and flash mob organizer Scott Wendling said the demonstration was toned down to bolster the Missouri basketball team, which lost 77-56 to No. 2 Kansas.

Members of CoMo Fiber said they were satisfied with the results. Amberly Engert said she was happy that the community was able to get the information they needed about Google's fiber-optic service.

"Given the time we had, I think we did as much as we could," she said. "I'm happy we got the information out so people can start submitting the applications."

Scott Wendling, a member of CoMo Fiber and organizer of the flash mob, hopes to bring more creativity to the group's efforts.

"We need everybody's help. Were looking for ideas out side the box. We're just trying to brainstorm what to do from here," he said.

The group met at The Underground Cafe on Sunday to discuss how to increase community involvement with Google's trial offer. Wendling suggested starting with groups and organizations within the community to spread the word.

"We want to get organizations like churches, hospitals, art leagues to submit group applications. Having groups submit applications would cut down on time because we wouldn't have to contact individuals for their support," he said.

Ian Eyberg, a member of CoMo Fiber, mentioned having video contests in schools so students could talk about what Google means to them. The videos would be posted on CoMo Fiber's Web site so the community could view them.

"We could use this as a springboard to educate parents about Google," he said. "The kids enthusiasm can be used to influence parents about why this issue is important."

CoMo Fiber member John Clark said he feels school are an important audience to target.

"Teachers are the only group of people routinely teaching kids how to use the Internet," he said. "We need to get them involved so they know what is going on."

Applications to Google are due on March 26.


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