From the There's Nothing New Under the Sun Department, coffee houses in the 17th and 18th centuries were the Wi-Fi hotspots of their day: The Economist writes (without byline, as is its wont) about the parallels between the political and editorial foment that occurred in 17th and 18th century coffeehouses in England and, to a lesser extent, France, and how these centers of iquity (as opposed to iniquity, Wodehouse might write) led to the foundation of insurers and publications. In fact, coffee houses were often the mailing addresses for folks before street addresses were common.
It all sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it? Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee houses thus have this excellent pedigree. The author of this piece is the same fellow who write the charming and excellent The Victorian Internet, which relayed the development of the telegraph and its effect on the planetary infosphere, and how it paralleled (and predicted) Internet trends, including the bubble. The author is working on a book now about the coffee house/Internet cafe overlap.