12/2/04

Disconnect

In his latest "Web Informant," my friend and colleague, David Strom wrote:
I have an idea for a new reality TV show: take a dozen families and cut off their Internet access for two weeks. See how long it takes them before they have to use the telephone to talk to their friends, check the local movie listings in the newspaper, and have to go to the mall to do their shopping. ... ( check it out.)
I can relate.

Years ago AT&T rolled out those public phones with keyboards you see at many airports. When they first came out in the mid 90s, you could use them as ASCII terminals and I would dial-in to a modem and get a command line prompt. I don't think this works today, but in the pre-notebook PC days it was a great way to redeem the time at the Denver Airport.

I worked at TIS back then and Steve Crocker was my supervisor. I pointed these out to him and we talked about the desire to be as connected as possible. He looked at me and said, in all honesty, "I can hardly stand to get on an airplane." (When jets get Internet connection in the air, I am sure that he will be flying in the business or first class cabin and be connected for the duration of the flight.)

Reading David's article reminded me of how I react today when our ADSL connection goes down. (I'll not go into it, but it's not pretty.) I can also relate to the phenomenon of relying on the Internet (and e-mail) to the exclusion of other, sometimes more reliable, communications. Have you ever:
  • Repeatedly e-mailed someone waiting for an important response, but forgot about using the telephone?
  • Forgotten that you can get flight information or make an airline reservation or access your bank via the telephone?
  • Gotten lost because you couldn't get directions from the Internet and didn't make a phone call?
Yes, the Internet -- maybe more specifically, broadband/always-connected Internet -- "has definitely crossed over from oddity to necessity..." But, let's try not to forget about the obvious alternatives.

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