The last yard

There’s been various writings about the Internet as a place – for better or for worse. Nothing new, yada yada yada. It may be true that the kids of today are growing up in a world where chat is preferable to phone, and MySpace discussion boards are a valid hang-out. As my son would say, “fine, whatever!”

To me however, there’s a fatal flaw in this “place” thing. First, at the moment the dream of virtuality is encased in a couple of kilos of tin with a 17″ screen. Of course, I could carry this around the house with me but that’s not the point – I generally don’t, and nor does anyone else. This is the last yard – between the screen and my eyeballs. If I want to “jack in”, the last yard requires me to go perch at a desk somewhere, much as I’m doing right now. Indeed, let’s work through my last ten minutes:

  • – in the kitchen, I am thinking over something discussed last Friday. I decide it would be worth writing about.
  • – I head upstairs to my computer and forget what it was I was going to do
  • – back downstairs, I make myself a coffee and it comes back to me
  • – I decide its not worth the effort, so I sit and read the paper
  • – I return upstairs to check my email
  • – when at my computer, I think, “oh sod it, might as well post”

Its hardly communications at the speed of light, is it? My own foibles aside, I don’t believe we are even one degree out of 360 towards really integrating the Internet with daily life. The whole process above is neither natural nor practical, nor particularly inspiring towards seeing computers, and even our darling Internet, as anything more than a distant haven that we can visit from time to time. This is the Internet as a place, but its a place we have to go, rather than the place we are in – adequate for now perhaps, but not even scratching the surface of what should be possible.

The last yard

5 thoughts on “The last yard

  1. First, at the moment the dream of virtuality is encased in a couple of kilos of tin with a 17? screen.

    .. Hence the word VIRTUAL. You’re looking at the physical form in front of you and judging it. Instead why don’t you try looking at everything in between, the things you can’t see. Ideas you have yet to implement, people you have yet to talk to and meet, places you have yet to go, art you have yet to view, great scribes whose work you have yet to read. Then stop consuming and contribute to the same great pool of thoughts and ideas that all these others reside in.

    – I head upstairs to my computer and forget what it was I was going to do

    … Your short term memory is completely shot.

    – I decide its not worth the effort, so I sit and read the paper

    .. You are lazy and or apathetic.

    – Its hardly communications at the speed of light, is it?

    Write your article and with one click trasmit it to everyone in the world. Yeah, you’re right, that’s not fast at all…

  2. I was just linked here by http://www.endofcyberspace.com/2006/04/a_place_we_have.html .

    You are totally correct, if you’re talking about someone who owns a desktop machine. Now I can see you, or anyone else, saying this all mostly applies to laptop users as well. Just like anyone else it’s kind of a pain to pull my Thinkpad out of my bag, open it up, flip the power switch on, and wait for the system to boot up. I am still waiting to go to that “place”, only if where I’m doing all this at has wifi access.

    Now this is where it seems like I’m making my way past the quarter point of your 360. I keep with me at all times a T-Mobile Sidekick 2, the device gives me access to about 80-90% of the web based internet. I have my live inbox with me, AIM, Y!M, and an SSH client. Someone brings up something I haven’t heard of before, google and wikipedia are in my pocket. Firefox uploads a fresh copy of my bookmarks in html format to my server every time it closes that I can access with my device. I want to post something to my journal, send an email (with picture attachments from the camera on the device) to my journal service. IRC works pretty well through my linux box via SSH.

    I don’t “go to” this interface for the internet, there is no yard for me, data just spills out of my pocket. What’s weird is thinking of my self as an interface, being out with friends, having them ask “hey check up so_and_so real quick, you can do that on your phone right?” makes me wonder. At this point, with me, it’s really hard to label the internet as a place. More like a 2nd set of data input and output, running along side the first set.

    Wake up, your 360 isn’t too far off.

  3. Great comments – will respond soonest! Just trying to get my sister’s wifi sorted, started to overhear the following…

    Sister: “Is he listening?”

    Wife: “Don’t know, perhaps you should move a little closer…”

    Sister: “Jon, do you want a cup of tea!!??”

    Wife: “Try booting him…”

    I think they were talking about the DSL router, but I can’t be sure 😉

  4. Pixelat3d wrote: “You’re looking at the physical form in front of you and judging it.”

    Rubin wrote: “I don’t “go to” this interface for the internet, there is no yard for me, data just spills out of my pocket.”

    Absolutely right, I am looking at the physical, judging it and finding it lacking. Perhaps the experience is different but living in a rural area there is no guarantee the message will get through, or for that matter when driving long distances, or in thick-walled buildings, etc, etc. I don’t know about you but I find the screen size on the average phone/PDA still too small (my current Qtek 9100 is near-perfect, but still not quite there) and the software is incomplete. Admittedly its a work in progress, but lets face it, its a work in progress. I fully believe that “360 isn’t too far off” (Rubin), but equally, its not yet there – let’s not assume that the average Joe has the wherewithall, the time or inclination to set up a configuration that brings their world and the virtual world together.

    Rubin: “Instead why don’t you try looking at everything in between, the things you can’t see. Ideas you have yet to implement, people you have yet to talk to and meet, places you have yet to go, art you have yet to view, great scribes whose work you have yet to read.”

    Just off to walk the dog, soak in the morning and do exactly that, its unavoidable 🙂

    “Then stop consuming and contribute to the same great pool of thoughts and ideas that all these others reside in.”

    I’ll keep it in mind, thanks! 😀

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