Yesterday we woke up and found the internet didn’t work. Never mind the long saga of getting through to BT and trying, unsuccessfully, to explain to the answer-by-rote call centre, that as the problem affected all 4 computers in the house, it must be their hub at fault, and not just us being incompetent with Windows. What really made me think (once it was fixed), was that we were all at a complete loss without having instant access to everything and everyone in the world. We couldn’t get catch-up TV, we couldn’t natter on Facebook or Twitter, we couldn’t check our emails or update our web pages, we couldn’t contact customers, we couldn’t browse for Christmas presents, we couldn’t manage our money, we couldn’t, at a stroke, settle a dinner-time argument and establish when exactly Jane Austen first referred to white soup. It might be because we live in the wilds, out of easy reach of High Street shops, libraries and friendly coffee shops, but I can really no longer get through the day without the internet.
Thirty years ago, I was working in a library (the place where information used to be accessed), where a strange new notion was introduced, whereby the phone receiver could be placed in a special cradle, miraculously linking our dumpy computer, working at the speed of a hibernating hedgehog, with computers in other libraries, so that we could share databases and catalogue lists. The reference librarian (the only one allowed to access this high-tech esoteric system) was quite excited about it. Me, I couldn’t really see the point.