Connectivity

 

picture of people using the mobile phones on york railway station.

Eyes down. (That’s Ron Mitchell centre-stage 😉

James Clay’s recent e-Learning Stuff blog post – http://elearningstuff.net/2013/04/15/so-what-if-i-am-not-connected/ prompted the following reply from me on Facebook:

I so agree James. It’s almost like 10 years ago when we couldn’t assume that learners (or their teachers) could (or would) be able to get on the net.

Now that everyone pretty much ‘can’ get on the net and mainly ‘do’ get on the net for social purposes – we similarly assume that they are savvy enough to deal with lack of or no connectivity, JAVA updates, Adobe updates and the like, all of which take up time – always at the most inconvenient, obtrusive “ffs leave me alone” time.

I leave train journeys for ‘Office’ stuff and reading now – I never try because it’s just so depressing.

He’d talked about how unreliable getting on line was during the times he had to take part in online courses. Whilst I am not taking part in such a course, I have exactly the same frustration – as I’m sure do most travelling (peripatetic) workers who rely on the internet for collaboration and communication.

I am working away all of this week, in Maidenhead.  Whilst I’m working in the college I’m so full on that I am unable to access my emails, reply to FB or Twitter ‘stuff’, blog or – anything that would, if sat in my office at home, effect an immediate response. So that sort of thing has to wait until I’m sat in my Travelodge bedroom, walking the streets or sat in a pub.

In my Travelodge bedroom (which may itself evoke another blog post) I have a wide variety of ‘pay for me‘ services available and I’m not paying for those – they are just as unreliable as the train WiFis. However, I do have a ‘3’ pay as you go MiFi which rarely lets me down when it has good reception and I’m not in a moving vehicle. I’m using MiFi as I type this. So – pretty good service, but I have to wait until I’m static, have switched it on and I’m connected.

Walking the streets – the MiFi would probably be ok, but why would I carry my laptop or iPad around with my, typing in the streets? I could use my iPhone, but the clue is in the name: when you’re walking, it’s really only any good as a phone. When you’re sat still and doing anything other than texting or reading emails on the iPhone 3GS, it’s only any good as a phone (and therefore discarded from this tirade).

So, the pub (and many other out-and-about establishments) provide access to The Cloud or similar services (e.g. BT Total Broadband). And, I use them. But. They are so erratic. I tried to upload a photo to Instagram the other night but it just wouldn’t go. I’ve no idea why, I had good connection to The Cloud  but – nothing. It’s not the first time I’ve had trouble with Instagram.

The same occurred when I wanted to share a passage I’d read in the Kindle Book I was reading – “sorry, something has gone wrong” – Amazon, the cheeky sods even sent me emails each time I tried, to say “sorry, something went wrong, please try again” (I can’t. I’ve finished the damn book now grrrr).

So, when I’m away from home I become a frustrated communicator/collaborator. When I’m abroad, it’s even harder.

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Maslow v Internet … cont.

Continuing the theme I started back in June of comparing Maslow’s (1954 + 1970) hierarchy of human needs against our current 21st century needs I thought that I’d record our week-2 experiences in France. [Other notes on our holiday being here]

We’d not done too bad in Sancerre during week one, with a modicum of slow WiFi being available in the apartment, week two in St. Gengoux le National was however, considerably different.

Back in June, when we’d visited Spain with my brother and Debbie, his girlfriend, we’d had no internet access whatever and I detailed the sort of things we missed at that time. On July 1st however, T-Mobile our ‘mobile’ provider introduced a scheme where we could buy limited amounts of connectivity – so our visit to France could easily be covered by buying into that.

£2.50 per 10meg or £10 per 50meg didn’t seem a bad price for being able to access emails etc. while on the move abroad. So I bought a £2.50 package to see how far it would go. I have to admit that I pushed that first package hard and it lasted about 24 hours! My fault (on purpose) I suppose because I posted several picture to Instagram. I don’t suppose the seven pictures I uploaded were too bad @ around 30p each. The next package I bought, used almost exclusively for emails (I still had some ‘work‘ to do while on holiday) lasted for over a week. Sharon’s packages were similarly long lasting. However

Once we arrived at our gite in Burgundy we found that even T-Mobile’s cost effective package would be no use. In the house itself we had no connectivity whatsoever, except late at night a cloud of ‘E’ floated in and out at whim! ‘E’ = EDGE.

I’m not sure that EDGE ever caught on at home, I barely noticed the difference between it and GPRS and once you’ve experienced 3G (or more especially, super-fast broadband via WiFi) you  find it grindingly slow. Yet the entire region only had EDGE access, even walking up the road meant a tiresome wait for downloading emails (i.e. 2-3 minutes rather than fairly instant). Finding ‘stuff’ on the Internet was similarly slow – we had to go for a drive, to find some 3G so that Sharon could research cures for a small medical problem.

Which is where we come right back to Maslow. Both lower levels (safety and physiological) are different in the 21st Century to what they were 50+ years ago. We no longer rely on the doctor to tell us everything; we also look it up on the Internet. I wanted to express my love (mid-level) by taking us on a TGV trip to Paris but couldn’t access the site! Most of the simple ‘online’ things we now take for granted were not avaialble to us.

Now, I realise that connectivity is not something everyone want when they go on holiday, but an ever increasing number of us do. 

Digital Traveller

I’ve just spent a pleasant weekend away in Ford, near Leek, Staffordshire with family (Sharon’s). We had great weather in great countryside but with no connectivity whatsoever.

i.e. No Internet connection and no phone connection: With all the consequent ‘no’s: no text, no emails, no checking crossword answers on Google, no checking facts for any of my blogs (e.g. Food blog; Saturday blog; Blogger blog amongst irregular others), no researching #SugSnips. It was bliss. Although, that’s quite glib, it WAS bliss, but for how long could I (we) have managed?

I’m writing my notes for this on the Sunday; we got here on Friday and we’ll return home tomorrow – and for me, that’s quite long enough thank you. I’ve managed to turn myself into an information junkie. I always feel that there is always too much information ‘noise’ out there, but when I want to know something – it’s the Internet I turn to. When I want to contact someone, it’s their mobile phone or their email I use – I rarely pick up the land-line ‘for chat’.

That’s me and that’s my problem (and to a lesser extent Sharon’s). But what about the others?

Two sisters in law say they are quite okay without any of the connectivity I crave and with Joanne, that’s more than likely true as she’s not a texter and rarely has her mobile phone with her – but she does use the Internet well for research. And she’s a big time Kindle user. Rosie on the other hand, despite her joking derision of my ‘loss’, has greatly missed her ‘text’ connectivity, having to make several walks up the field behind our cottage to get the sliver of connectivity she needed to keep in touch with her extended family. Unlike me, neither of them ‘need’ connectivity for their work.

We are all of us (society in general) digitally connected, yet we all have different communication needs. From those that have my all-encompassing need to access to the Internet 24/7, through Joanne’s need to have people available on the end of a land-line, to Rosie’s preference to letter writing (with pen and paper).

But we cannot be a completely digital society without complete digital coverage. So, come on service providers – you must do better.