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Norwich and Greenbelt, Unwired. And unwise? 31 August 2006

Posted by Dr Moose in Uncategorized.

(Category: Life)

OK, I confess the Greenbelt part of the title is an attempt to get attention, but it worked. That doesn’t remove thae fact that it is also true.

While I am something of a technophile (an ‘early adopter’, rather than an’ innovator’, if you follow Hägerstrand’s model of diffusion, I have to admit), I have only recently taken the Wireless Networking revolution beyind the home (or rather I will do, once my Centrino laptop actually leaves home!) I have, however, been intrested to see in many places where I travel that where coffee is served, so is Wi-Fi internet access available. Sometimes for free, sometimes not.

This year, not for the first time I suspect, the same could be said of several Greenbelt locations, and now, according to the Beeb, the entire city centre of Norwich.

On the whole I have to say that I think this is a good thing. Yet within me there remains a niggling doubt. I know how hard it was for me to stay off the internet even for the few days at Greenbelt, and even then I finally cracked. I can make light-hearted comments about addiction, but I know how my work rate is affected by having broadband here at home (after all, I should be writing a talk for Sunday afternoon at this very minute!) – and I can see from the bulletin boards I frequent and the mailing lists upon which I’m active, just how much difference there is in activity between working hours (high) and out of work (low).

Of course, reservations may well have been expressed about the availability of the radio programmes once the equipment became portable, and the (anti-)social influence of the walkman, and it’s successor, the iPod, are pretty clear as users shut themselves off into a private bubble that barely need acknowledge the outside world. Likewise mobile phones have revolutionised personal communication – just ask any long-term Greenbelter about the diffrences it’s made to the festival – at the expense of breaking down the boundaries of work and leisure. But what are the social implications of ever-greater connection to the virtual, I wonder? Taking my online hobbies obsessions to Greenbelt, just as to “work”, must have an effect… and one that cannot be wholly beneficial.

None of that, however, removes the fact that being able to surf the net at night while sitting in bed next to the GLW is pretty neat!



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