I remember when I first got back to the west from Liberia, I used to go into cafés with my laptop and, before buying a coffee, ask the waitress or clerk if they had wireless internet at the café. My inquiry would usually solicit some strange looks, sometimes a giggle, and always the answer yes.
I soon realized that I didn’t need to ask because it was basically assumed that every café has wireless. I was comparing this to Monrovia (where I lived for the past 2 years), a city in which only a limited number of of cafés and restaurants had internet internet access (and everyone knew which ones those were).
When I left the US, internet was a thing you did in certain fixed places, like in your house or at the office. Now the internet has clearly become a thing that you do everywhere (and all the time). Whenever I connect in a public place, be it a café or an airport or a library, there are always a dozen or more connections to choose from; I usually have to ask not only for the password, but also which network to connect to. Multiple wireless networks?! Incredible.
I am, by the way, currently writing this post from a café (and no, I didn’t ask about the wireless when I came in; I save myself that embarrassment now).