Virulent Word of Mouse

January 18, 2010

Wifi on wings

Ever since the creation of the Web turned the Internet into one very large and rather oversized information bazaar, there has been one surefire way to generate revenue, selling access to the Internet. And there has been one way to grow revenue – find better or different ways to provide access.

In that light I have seen the latest attempts to extend Internet access into new domains. It flies. It is also pathetic.

More concretely, on a recent flight between Chicago and San Francisco I purchased wifi access. I want to talk about this experience.

On one level it was rather cool – actually, very cool, mega-cool, gee-whiz cool, or whatever adjective you want to use for the first experience with a new technology.  Here is what I mean. I sent email from 35K up in the air. I surfed while soaring above the Rockies. My kids in the passenger seats listened to their iPods, and I sent an email to my brother telling him we would be on time for dinner, and he replied that he got it (all this took place while we were more than 90 minutes away from landing). It made me giddy to use something so technically novel.

On another level it was also rather pathetic. The Internet has touched yet one more part of society, the airplane, one of the last quiet corners of the globe. I faced the beast and gave in without a fight. I could not resist the temptation to touch the Internet on an airplane. I could not resist the online addition for even four hours. Like all addicts, I really enjoyed the experience while it lasted, but after it was over it made me wonder about myself. (more…)

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