I’m in the middle of a period without home internet access of unknown length (due to some complicated circumstances I’ll avoid going into…). This is the first significant period of time I’ve spent without internet access since roughly the year 2000 – and it’s made me really think about how different life (specifically, MY life) is with the addition of this technology.
Before the internet, I went to libraries much more frequently. I made phone calls more frequently. I used large books filled with small print to find phone numbers. I talked to librarians when there was a piece of information I didn’t know how to find.
And now, in a brief period without internet access, I’m at a loss as to how to find certain types of information. The internet and search technology has deeply infiltrated my life.
Once, I would have listened to weather forecasts on the radio or seen them on television. Today, I have no television, and haven’t turned the radio on in more than a year. In fact, I haven’t any idea what channel/station I would want to visit in order to get weather or news information. I might have read the forecast in the newspaper – which I no longer receive in print. All my previous forms in information retrieval have been thrown over in favor of the almight internet.
Now, to be fair, I’m currently living in Austria – and my German is, unfortunately, not up to the German news. If I were living in an english-speaking country, I would perhaps feel a little less lost. But I have lived here now for 7 months – and never once needed to find an alternative way to get news or other daily information. When I needed Austria specific information sources I turned to Google – a quick search and I found what I needed, in most cases, and in English.
In 1995 and 1996 the newspapers were devoting a not insignificant space to the development of internet commerce. I was not a believer, at the time. I had only rarely used a computer, and had never even considered purchasing one. (Not matching the stereotype of a web developer right now, am I?) I thought it highly unlikely that computers would be easier or more manageable than a simple telephone call.
Well, I admit freely that I was wrong. Yet now my life is dependent on the internet. Because of the complete information availability of web tools and news, I no longer give a thought to traditional modes of information. This is a challenge to me in the field of internet marketing – I must constantly perceive outside of myself and consider again those modes of information which I no longer see on a daily basis.
Losing my internet access has been highly inconvenient. Yet, in spite of this, it has reminded me of that alternate world – where news is retrieved from television and newspapers, and you use sheets of thin paper to locate and contact a business.