There’s a Starbucks caf� around the corner where I occasionally stop in for some morning caffeine. Lately, the denizens of this establishment, located in New York’s trendy Flatiron District, have been surfing the Net while they sprawl in their easy chairs.

At first, I thought they were looking at old pages that they’d saved. But no, the laptop-equipped customers are actually looking at live Web pages, sending e-mail and otherwise acting as though they were plugged into a network.