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By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-12-27 Print this article Print

: Weve Come a Long Way, Baby."> What amazes me (as I resignedly sit down to spend half an hour typing my column back in from memory, more or less) is how utterly bereft I actually feel.
Forty or so years ago, I remember my first trip to Paris on my own—a voyage into the outer limits. You couldnt make a phone call from Paris to London by dialing; you had to ask an operator. She (inevitably, in the 60s) would not speak English. My French was up to saying: "Parlez-vous Anglais?" but unless the answer was "Yes, a leetle beet" or better, I wasnt going to understand the reply.
In those days, if you saw something, you bought a postcard, struggled to find what a post box looked like, and hoped your friends would forgive you for not having the courage to buy a stamp—and sent it. Those of us who traveled on business were envied by colleagues who didnt own a passport. We had to stick postcards up on the office corkboard to show where wed been, and bring back appropriate refreshment, preferably spirituous. Today, we have got used to just pulling out the mobile phone: "Hi, Carol, its me, Guy. Youll never guess what Im looking at!" We expect to be able to check the scores on our favorite cricket or football team by looking at the nearest satellite TV, or by pocket e-mail to someone at the stadium, and perhaps even a photo of the action, goal by goal. We have instant messaging on our pocket PDA or smart phone when were away from IM on the PC. Suddenly, being cut off from all this is like being struck blind and deaf. The world has gone away. And its shockingly disconcerting, disorienting, and even depressing. OK, the plan was to relax over the break. The family, good food, a fire, some snow—we werent going to be hard at work. But even so, it left me sobered. If the world goes the way I expect, by the year 2010 the sort of connectivity we take for granted at our desktops, will be ubiquitous. And if we fall into a pocket of blank disconnectivity, it could be really a psychic shock. I wonder if we realize just how strange it will feel? Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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