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badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

Posts tagged internet

Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are killing the web (The Guardian)

Even before I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being curbed. Its biggest enemy was a philosophy that combined two of the most dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: newness and popularity. (Isn’t this embodied these days by the real-world dominance of young celebrities?) That philosophy is the stream. The stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex and secretive algorithms.

I miss when people took time to be exposed to opinions other than their own, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares, and best time to post.

The whole article is worth reading but that last paragraph is a truth I can’t agree with enough. It seems like it is harder and harder to just write something and have someone read it or take a picture and have people enjoy it. Instead everything has to be “curated” and cared for to catch as many views and likes as possible.

I am even guilty of it here. On Twitter I linked to my link post here rather than the article itself. I want people to read my thoughts on the article rather than the article alone…

One of the travel issues that I have been struggling with is internet access while in foreign countries. As some of my travel destinations become more obscure, access to the internet becomes more difficult. Do I absolutely need internet when traveling abroad? It is definitely one of those items that would be nice to have if I encountered problems with flights or travel in general and if for some reason I need to do some work or access a file back home having the access would be welcome.

I have been looking at items like this Unlocked WIFI Mobile Hotspot and I thought it would actually fit the bill until I saw that it wasn’t actually 4G. I have heard from a few friends that it is possible to get a real 4G device unlocked from stores in England. Then it is as simple as getting a data SIM card from a local carrier in the country you are in and presto, you have internet access. Of course these devices are fickle and in some cases it is hard to find a data SIM but for most scenarios, the process should work as advertised.

With all of that said, is internet access really necessary? I am sure that if the circumstances were dire, I could find an internet cafe or pay for an international phone call. Internet is really just a “nice to have” item. During my recent trip to Budapest, the internet in the hotel was as slow as molasses and having an alternate connection would have been very welcome. At the same time, travel is opportunity to disconnect and focus on the trip. By not having that internet connection overseas, it is a motivator to get out and see things rather than try to keep up with what is going on on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

If you have actually found a 4G device that works well overseas, I would love to get your thoughts on it.

To Tweet From 30,000 Feet: Picking Planes Wired for Wi-Fi

Scott McCartney on some interesting trends:

Airlines say Wi-Fi usage-the percentage of passengers paying for Internet access—is picking up, driven partly by the popularity of tablet computers and partly because more planes have the service. Currently about 8% of passengers use the service, up from 4% at the end of 2010, according to In-Stat, a research and consulting firm. That likely will reach 10% of passengers by the end of this year, In-Stat says.

In-Flight Wi-Fi usage growth is no surprise. We are addicted to being connected just about everywhere we are. Why should an airplane limit that addiction? My opinion on this is two-fold. Sure, it is great to get your e-mail, work on your website, post photographs, etc. while you’re in the air but as someone who travels for work, I relish being cut off from the outside world for a while.

Since United announced a push to install Wi-Fi on a number of their aircraft, I will see if my perception and opinion changes over the next year. I tried to use in-flight Wi-Fi on a trip from Seattle to Frankfurt on Lufthansa in December but it was inoperative the entire time. On a flight of that length, it would have been quite nice.

It’s 6pm, you are just getting home from work. You immediately freshen up and head to a nearby restaurant. You arrive at the restaurant, take out your cell phone and “check in” to Foursquare or Gowalla. You are seated, you order your dinner, take out your phone and tweet something you heard or saw go by. You finish your dinner, tweet how amazing it was, pay the bill, and then tweet again about what bar or establishment you are going to next for after dinner entertainment.

This seems to be the evening of a lot of people, as evidenced by browsing Twitter and the location based services I noted. I’ll be the first to admit it has been one of my habits. But, after a great deal of thinking about it, I wonder what these services really add to anything we do in our day to day lives, particularly the location based services.

What’s the Matter With Us?

Twitter has its place, it is a communication tool. Different people use it in different ways that make sense to them. Foursquare and Gowalla do not share the same kind of necessity as Twitter, just a niche novelty that, honestly, is kind of cool. Do we need such tools? My guess is that we don’t; They are just a new form of entertainment. Maybe it is just me, but I feel as though I am pulled in a bunch of directions by these different things. Add on top of them Google Reader for keeping up with news and other blogs, e-mail, Facebook, and whatever else you can think of, and it seems to become more work than it is worth.

The few times I have been incommunicado, the more obvious it has become that I need these tools less and less. Sure, their novelty is nice, but at what cost? What else could I be devoting my time to rather than letting people on Foursquare (some whom I don’t even know) see where I am at?

Is there a bigger trend here? Have we created the beginning of a time when verbal communication is no longer completely necessary? A lot of people think that children who are homeschooled are socially inept, to which I disagree and point out that more kids text today than talk on the phone. Not only do they text, but they have created a subset, shorthand language to do so. Maybe they are not inept but they have certainly begun a move away from “normal” communication, making further moves even easier.

Sure, there are other time wasters out there, there always have been. The difference now is that the time eating opportunities are constantly with us, no matter where we go. For me, this seems to speed daily life up, like fast forwarding an old VCR Cassette. We’re having the information thrown in front of us so fast that we do not have the time to really consume it. In a way, this pushes us apart. We are listening to people, but not really hearing them because we are distracted.

Can We Fix This?

We already have started to try. There are a number of people who have abandoned Twitter, Gowalla, Foursquare, MySpace, and Facebook out of a need to slow down and get back to normal. I am not suggesting the tools are causing the problems, they are simply making it easier for us to go through the motions of less communication and less interaction.

For me, fixing this means moving away from the tools as my entertainment and instead using them when necessary and filtering them often. A mass delete of the applications is not going to help you and it certainly is not the answer. Understanding what kind of time you spend on the services and how it affects your day to day activities is the way to start. From there, it’s up to you on whether it’s too much and how to correct it.

This definitely is not a call to abandon ship, it is me looking at what I have noticed over the past couple of years and asking others to do the same. What are your thoughts? Is this a bad path we are following or am I completely crazy and paranoid?