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.