Living in the Third World

The demise of our ISP has been a rude awakening. It’s not the travails of getting us back online, (For the detailed saga see Notes of a Backcountry Sysadmin), but rather the experience of living with a shared dialup.We (all four of us) have had an always-on connection ever since we moved into the office after the fire 6 years ago. When’s the movie? What’s the recipe for Jack Daniels ™ Tipsy Cake? Leave your email inbox open on the screen. The net is always there. Tonight I didn’t look up two words and didn’t check out CD players at SourceForge because it’s not worth dialing in to look up a word, and Lisa was online anyway.

It’s just not the same not having the net there all the time.

OK fine, by now a substantial chunk of the country (and the rest of the first world) can get broadband affordably. Uh yeah, but not those of us in the boonies. We’ve been spending about 5% of our income on a frame relay link. And it’s a pretty damn good income. Very few folks here in Marlow could afford one. But it’s positively life-changing. The digital divide is real.

So this is something we need to remember when we’re gloating about how much we love living here. Part of what makes it so great is that with the net, we can have a big chunk of the city’s conveniences without being there. True, but we’ve spent money out the gazoo to have the net. Will be again for that matter. Little less money, little better connection.

OK, now the glass three-quarter full side. Yep the digital divide is real. But ten years ago the professional moaners of the left were whining about how only rich folks had cell phones, and now everyone does. Seven years ago, when Lisa helped start Webmobile, I doubt there were 100,000 people in North America who could get cable modems or DSL. Now there’s 100 million. Keene has both. Sure it’s something to keep an eye on, but not to have hysterics about. Connectivity is spreading like cancer.

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