Aug 31st, 2004
My vacation from the Internet was alternately frustrating and refreshing.
Have I mentioned that I?ve been teaching classes and lecturing about the Internet, computers, information and libraries while I?ve been away from the US (and the blog)?
During the last four months of traveling and teaching in Asia and Polynesia, there was surprisingly little Internet access. At least where I lived. That meant a life with no practical access to email, news (tech or otherwise), Internet reference or blogs (mine or yours:). Certainly a challenge when one of the lectures you give deals with ?how to keep your computer safe?.
In relation to work, lack of practical Internet access is definitely a special challenge when your patrons/customers know you are a Librarian and they want you to look things up for them. Sure! I can help you! Sort of. You see, dear customer, dial-up speed satellite Internet access for you onboard (when it is up) costs 50 cents a minute. On top of that, private lessons from me are $50-$75 an hour. Not a bargain in the traditional sense of the word. And as most of you Librarians know, a large percentage of the people that want our computer assistance really just need a class or two about how to use computers, access the Internet and use email (and about three hours of mouse practice). The problem is, at the prices listed above, most folks wanted me to show and teach them everything in as short a time as possible, and then for free at that! Now I?m a nice guy, but I wasn?t there to work for free. I?d cut them a little slack and stay 10-15 minutes extra and be extra patient and kind, but don?t then ask me to not charge you after you agreed in advance how much you would pay. See why I love non profit work?
After that story I should mention that most of my students were a pleasure to teach and were pretty low maintenance. However, in regard to me helping them with the Internet for their email folks generally weren?t so understanding. In the ?regular? pay classes though most of the students were gems. And in the free lectures they were great without exception (well, there was this one guy who was amazingly obnoxious, but that?s a story for another day.). Makes you think about how people respond to things based on what they are paying for them, eh?
On another more personal note, I found a lack of practical Internet access made me realize how much it has become integrated in my everyday life. From news to trivia to contact with friends and colleagues, the thing might as well be plugged into my head! A little disconcerting! After several tries I was usually able to get messages out to a few people, but it was often a lot of work. Those of you that received a one or two sentence email from me while I was sailing somewhere in the Pacific Ocean know just what I mean.
All in all, it was sometimes frustrating, but often quite refreshing to be practically disconnected from the Internet for four months. I?d actually recommend it to most folks, especially those of us that seem attached to it at the hip. I?m not saying I?d prefer to be without it, but it wasn?t so bad most of the time.