Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 7 February 2005

The perils of Broadband - a salutary tale

I'm one of the estimated 5 million people in the UK with Broadband access, a facility I've had for about a year and a half now. It has certainly made my life online a lot easier than before, although I do not think I actually spend a lot more time online than before. My ISP offers unlimited bandwidth for about GBP30 a month with a speed of 1GB, but frankly I doubt if I use it much more than when I had to rely on a 56K modem, also with unlimited time online. On the other hand, there is no denying that I spend a lot more time at the computer simply cruising in a sort of mental neutral gear than in the days, about nine years ago, before I had regular internet access on my home PC and used it mainly for very practical matters. One of the big efficiency-increasers is the proliferation of RSS feeds, but like all such innovations it has a downside - access to so much information and comment (from all over the world) that the job of sifting through reams of articles seems to have become more important that simply keeping abreast of the basics of what's going on in the world; I have to confess that I delete at least 70 per cent of the RSS feeds my aggregator pulls up for me without reading even the headline or article summary - life is just far too short.

For me having Broadband access is a little 'luxury' I would find it difficult to live without - so, yes, I am addicted - but used sensibly I don't believe it is harmful. Quite apart from anything else, having Broadband means that my telephone line is almost always free to receive calls; in the days before I had it, friends and relatives berated me constantly because my 'phone line was almost always busy, so I'd say that is probably the major benefit to me of having Broadband. And being able to order goods and services (books, theatre tickets, hotel rooms, aeroplane tickets, etc) with great convenience from my own home.

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