In the later half of 2012, I started developing an application called "Ping Collector" to record the internet stability and performance data of multiple homes, hoping to alert ISPs and the FCC to areas where internet access was extremely subpar. Eight months later, I released it, achieving a whopping max of seven users. The idealistic 22-year old Zack was pretty worn down the missionof improving connection quality for others.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015, I am in the middle of a "quarter-life crisis", living temporarily with one of my parents, and debating on a move to Austin, TX. While visiting my mother, who still had bad, if not worse, internet as before, my motivation was reignited to push for a change. I decided that I would make a last ditch effort to leave my hometown area better than I found it.
I decided to start from the bottom-up. I made up a simple petition, and enlisted my two cousins to help me deal with the anxiety, and also reinforce that I was not a door-to-door salesman (people in rural areas rightfully are a bit disturbed whenever someone knocks on their door). After 3-4 days of door-to-door work, we were able to gather about 134 unique household signatures.
It was difficult. We talked with people that thought signatures of any kind could hurt them (as only 17% of people age 25+ in the area have a bachelor's degree, I expected this). We ran into a batshit crazy preacher, who feigned interest for nearly 30-40 minutes, and with a smirk, refused to sign. One lady spouted,"They don't even care about the environment out here, what makes you think they will care about the internet." She could not identify who "they" were, unsurprisingly.
I reached out to local news organizations with my previous datasets from Ping Collector and my petition. I found hope in the Herald Standard/Greene County Messenger. Weeks later, I received a call from a Tactical Planning Engineer from the ISP in our area, wanting to alleviate the issue. And now, nearly a year later after those hot, stressful days walking door to door, my mother, and everyone in the surrounding area have a STABLE connection (upwards to 20 megabits per second!).
The point I want to pass onto you about all of this?
Nothing is in vain. Each moment is a moment forward.
A sentence written,
A note played,
A line coded,
A breath taken,
A weight lifted,
A brush stroked,
...A small victory.