I spend a fair amount of time travelling on business. That's been the case for a long time, and when I first started wandering the airways back in the 1980s the business world was still very much a telephone and letter driven thing.
I spoke to clients by phone, booked my airline tickets and hotels by phone or fax, and advised my clients via hard-copy reports – my best friend was my word processor.
I've just returned from a four-day working trip to New York, and while I was there I had a time to reflect on just how much the internet has changed our lives in a few short years. My favourite hotel provides me with a high-speed wireless broadband connection for just $10 a day – nothing when the client is paying – and that links my room to the outside world in ways which would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
Sitting at my laptop overlooking Central Park I talked to a client in Sydney via a Skype call, did a remote assistance session with another client in Kent, checked with a shop in NY Chinatown to see if they had something my wife had asked me to bring home, spent some relaxed hours in our online forum, researched a report for my NY client, contacted British Airways to check myself in for my return flight, printed my own boarding pass on my mobile printer and booked a table in a decent restaurant, so I could entertain my clients to dinner; all without leaving my faithful laptop. In every corridor there's a cute little desk and stool with an internet-connected PC – any guest can simply sit down and surf, at any time of the day and night, and the computers are in more or less constant use.
It all started me wondering… are we all so ensnared in this wonderful world-wide web that life would be a tad empty without it? Have we become so reliant on the internet that we would feel a little empty if we couldn't get our daily dose of connectivity, our favourite means of contact with the rest of the human race? I would seriously doubt my ability to earn a living now without a broadband connection, and I'm not sure whether that makes me a sad person, or just a 21st-century one. It depends on your point of view, I suppose; to some people the internet is just a word – they hear it all the time, but they don't need it, or don't want it, or simply feel it's a technology that isn't for them, an aspect of life that has passed them by.
What do you think? Is the internet so much a part of society now that we couldn't function properly without it, or are we kidding ourselves that we 'need' it in order to live life to the full? I'm unashamedly a member of the pro-internet club, but you tell me: am I in need of help? Should I get a life, and a proper job?
No apologies for the stream of conciousness, by the way. That's what blogs are for, isn't it?