Broadband? What’s the use?

USA Today publishes yet another story that is ostensibly about broadband, always on, connects becoming more prevelant. Actually the story, Broadband leads dial-up in use, frequency and duration is considerably more interesting than its title. It actually focuses on the ways that peoples lives are begining to change as broadband becomes a part of the social fabric. It makes for a fascinating read. And remember they are talking about speeds here that are generally no more than a tenth of what an fiber-optic system should serve up. Some suggestive excerpts:

Telephone books? Gathering dust on the shelf.

Atlases? What are they?

Communal behavior also is tempered by the broadband effect.

Family members arguing a point over dinner are more apt, if they have broadband, to “look it up online rather than continue to yell at each other,” said Lee Rainie, Pew’s director.

Or, in the absence of verbal interaction, families can have heated discussions in Internet chat rooms — individual members each sitting in separate rooms in front of computer screens.

My wife and I do google up answers to disagreements about fact and its nice to get it settled quickly–try Wiki if you’ve never messed around there and like finding things out you’re in for a treat. Our kids know we have pretty much constant connectivity at home and call us up from their cells for driving directions, the addresses of businesses, phone numbers of contacts that theyv’e lost and the like. Little email blizzards blow around containing the latest cute kid pics and humorous videos. I seldom use a telephone book or an atlas anymore. And we’ve gotten to the point where we get most of our news, even local news, over the web. My newspaper subscriptions begin to function like backups, sustained just in case something hasn’t made it onto the web. (Well, I also like the comics.) I trouble shoot other folks computers and do Photoshop manipulations for friends over the web. I did the majority of work for a book I was editing with several other people over the web. We had, I think, three face to face meetings. And I designed and submitted the cover the same way. All that is very different from the way I acted as recently as 5 years ago and none of it would have been possible without the web.

There’s more in the story and it’s worth thinking a little about how people’s day to day lives might change when broadband that dwarfs what the people in this story has comes in. It’s something that it looks like will happen in Louisiana first. We ought to be gearing up.


Laigniappe (Don’t like their take on it? See the comments. You can fix it yourself if you want.)

2 thoughts on “Broadband? What’s the use?”

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