Thursday, February 24, 2011

Imagine no online community

Imagine life as a thin layer over the rocks and mountains of the earth. We humans melded in the life layer. Between this one and the next the network of our physical communications. Our electronic communication an even thinner, more fragile layer of radio/sound/digital wires and waves overlaying that one. So much can go wrong.

I was offline for a couple of days. Hardware problems in the first place followed in short order by infra structure breakdown. I had no landline for ten days. My internet connection for a couple. Good for getting solitary work done you might say.

Still had my mobile, Though there's no of course about that either. There are many places in our region where mobile communication just doesn't reach. Folds in the land and such.

But my problems were caused by a little wire going scritch and breaking off somewhere, the technician came to tell me. He fixed it this afternoon.

It made me aware all over again of the fragility of the online community. How relatively new it still is and how easily it can still break. A friend and I were comparing notes. How recently we were still writing everything by hand. How recently social media still consisted of clunky discussion boards and email lists.

How important it is to keep real life communities going alongside virtual communities. Look at the communities affected by the floods, and the cyclone. The earthquake in Christchurch. Apart from the terrible damage and sad loss of life, there's no power, no computers, nowhere to charge your laptops and mobile phones. Only people to talk to face to face.

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