Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Working remotely

DSC00407 I’m camped out at a friend’s house, milking their internet connection from their back yard table.  It’s not a bad office-substitute, I like being able to make calls and take a stretch in the sunshine and fresh air.  It feels like the days that teachers would move class out-doors, and we’d all discuss things Socratic-style beneath the trees, or when the radio station let us go ‘on-location’.  It’s just nice to get out of the office.

The lack of internet connection in the apartment reminds me, again, of how dependent my business has become on fast multi-media connections to the rest of the world.  Project teams are scattered; I need to coordinate tasks and exchange results.  Resources are dispersed; I need to search journals and retrieve data.  Capital is out of position; funds need to be transferred and applied to component products and services.  McDonalds has enough bandwidth to do e-mail and banking, but not enough to make a reservation or transfer a file.  I can work offline at home for writing reports and reading papers, but need the interactivity of Skype to have conversations with people.

It’s a ‘hip-pocket’ business that doesn’t need a fixed office, but it does depend crucially on having a wire.  We trade one dependency for another: My free-ranging business just wouldn’t have been possible before the Internet.

The frustrating thing is that I can see a dozen connections around me, all locked down and unavailable.  I think that the proliferation of WEP keys under the guise of security is just a ruse.  The service providers have every motivation to sell their service to each user individually.  The threat of hackers is probably far less than the threat of connection-sharing, and it’s unfortunate that service providers have managed to scare each of us into a WEP-walled garden, fearing our neighbors as though they were terrorists.

Especially since the providers can’t actually provide a service with less than a month’s lead time.

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