Monday, 12 September 2011

WWW World without web?

Smartphones, tablets, netbooks, desktops, laptops, the digital outdoor panel I saw someone interacting with at a bus stop at lunchtime... we're increasingly living in a realtime, always connected world.  This has merits and disadvantages for sure, one of the reasons I love sailing is because in the middle of the Channel there's no connectivity, no new ideas to constantly compete for my attention. It gives me time to think, time for the digital dust of the week to settle.

Technology is at it's best when it's invisible. Just making things easy or being useful. We've all been frustrated at some point when technology refuses to co-operate for some inexplicable reason and you've wanted to throw the whole damn machine out the window. The internet, or rather connectivity to it, in its many guises be they apps, mobile sites, search engines, video streaming sites, Skype (which even got a mention from the vicar at my cousin's wedding last weekend) has changed our lives, changed how we interact with people, changed how we arrange meeting up with people, changed how we figure out where places are. I could go on.  So far today, I've read countless emails across a multitude of devices and inboxes, ditto tweets, I've written two blog posts, interacted with an internal forum, contributed to a community I manage,  bought a shirt online, made a table reservation online, looked somewhere up on a map, commented on some posts from friends on Facebook, uploaded and shared the photos from said wedding, watched videos, and I'm listening to Spotify as I speak. All pretty run of the mill stuff in my daily life. The device has almost become irrelevant. I couldn't have achieved anywhere near all of  those things offline in the same amount of time.

So next time you get some annoying error message just stop and think about the many good things internet connectivity facilitates. Things you couldn't do 20 years ago.  I'm planning to start a presentation to my yacht club tomorrow with this great quote from a great book... "The Go-between" by LP Hartley.

"The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there"

So true. We can't hide in the cupboard under the stairs and hope it's all going to go away. We have to learn to embrace the changes and take advantage of the things that are relevant to our lives. Everyone's picture will be different. And it doesn't matter. That's the genius of the beast.  Just imagine the world without the web... these Dutch guys deprived themselves of the internet for a week, this is their short report on the experience.  Would it match your views?

Watch this: [subtitled]

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