What Our Routers Say About Us

I’ve always been intrigued by the social phenomenon of the names people give to their Wi-Fi routers. Right now sitting in my apartment I can see a few notable ones:

  • The patriotically Philly “ballz franklin”
  • The simple yet informative “blondies”
  • The self-loathing yet astute “necessary evil”
  • The studious “PSAT”
  • The blithely lazy “linksys”
  • The misleading — as no such establishment exists within Wi-Fi range — “citywidecafe”
  • And the territorial “Sandra’s Network”.

Lauren Collins explores the wild west of wi-fi with a piece about wireless network enthusiast Alexandra Janelli, in The Tao of Wifi {new yorker}. The inspiration for the site came in 2009…

…in a bar on the Lower East Side, [while she was] fiddling with her iPhone. A window popped up asking if she’d like to join a wireless network called Alcoholics Shut In. “[She] was, like, well, that’s really odd… I’m not a huge techie, but I thought to myself, There must be other funny names out there.” 

The fruits of her curiosity culminated in this entertaining site, WTFwifi, a compendium of user-submitted Wi-Fi names.