Wednesday, 6 January 2010

WARNING! Disconnection Will Cause Adverse Side Effects..

Happy New Year, I’m sure many of you have amongst your resolutions a commitment to learn something new? Well let’s start January off with a little bit of science*.

Here’s a little psychological experiment but do remember, kids, don’t try this at home!

Our participant for this particular experiment is called Amanda, like me. And, oddly, in almost every way imaginable, Amanda is like me.

Amanda has just moved into a new flat. She likes it a great deal but it’s not yet hooked up with a landline or broadband and all her neighbours have sensibly passworded their connections with unguessable passwords. That’s ok, however, because we have provided her with a Blackberry and a Dongle for her Mac.

For 6 days we leave Amanda alone to settle in and simply observe her routine. On the 7th day, at 9pm, we inexplicably stop the Blackberry’s data package, bar outgoing calls & texts, and disable the dongle.

What happens next?

A) Our participant fusses, half heartedly, for a few minutes with the devices before breathing a sign of relief, running herself a bath and getting an early night.

B) Our participant systematically troubleshoots the Blackberry, Dongle and the Mac to no avail before giving up and settling on the sofa with a book and some wine, breaking periodically to check and re-check all devices.

C) Our participant displays mild signs of distress and spends an entire hour shutting down all devices, trying to restart them in different combinations, checking and double checking all phone lines and connections as well as trying to call the relevant customer care lines only to remember the phone is non-functional before finally resorting to working on her flagged email list offline, queuing the completed emails to send, presumably from her regular Starbucks the next day.

D) Our participant displays signs of severe anxiety, continually checking all three devices, repeatedly turning them on and off again and futilely attempting to channel Angelina Jolie’s character from Hackers and connect to local protected networks. Resorting to distraction techniques fails as she attempts to stream The Big Bang Theory on 4OD, search for podcasts on iTunes and discover new music on Spotify. Disoriented, she wanders from room to room with the dongle and the Blackberry seeking a connection, apparently unable to set the devices aside and work offline productively. Finally she attempts to look for local 24 hour internet café’s, or a pub with wifi, by using Google before realising her mistake and lapsing into a catatonic state.

Answers on a postcard ;-)

All in all, the experience was a little too like the time my business partner attempted to discover if my caffeine addiction was psychological or physiological by switching everything I had to decaf without me knowing. When, by mid afternoon, I excused myself to head home ill citing my symptoms as migraine, nausea, mental fugue, inability to concentrate and unbearable lethargy, then he sought pity on me and confessed. A couple of medicinal venti, extra-shot, skinny cappuccinos later (his shout, obviously) and we were able to definitively conclude that the experiment did not need repeating. I didn’t quite get it legislated in the shareholders agreement but be warned, it doesn’t say “caffeine addict” on my business card for no reason and, after yesterday, “net addict” may be appearing beside it with the next print run..

Is there a moral to this rambling story? Perhaps a final thought about the increasing over-dependence of society on online and digital communication? Or perhaps an argument towards internet access as a human right?

I don't know, or care, I don't have time to think about that now I have the internet back in all its glory!

* If you really do fancy learning some creative-entrepreneur friendly science go check out the fabulous boys and girls of Prism Magazine


John Hyde said...

Hee hee !

I can react in any of the 4 modes. Not sure where that leaves me....

Nice blog, BTW - I was looking for design of buttons when I stumbled in the door.

Gideon said...

Brilliant story about the coffee. Definitely cruel and unusual.