Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Near-supersonic networking

Taking flight
At altitude, December 2011
About this photo: Thematic celebrates screens this week. If you've got a screen-related pic you'd like to share, head here.
The good news: Our flight offered free wi-fi. The bad news: It expired after 30 minutes, at which point I'd be asked to fork over for the privilege of annoying my seatmates with my incessant Internauting.

My workaround? Simple: Collect every wi-fi-enabled device in my bag, and simply sign in anew when each half-hour ran out. By my count, I had five devices - laptop, two tablets, BlackBerry and iPod touch. - which got me 2-and-a-half hours of connected goodness on a three-hour flight.

Now, let's be clear that I am no fan of in-flight connectivity. Up until recently, in-flight aircraft represented the last bastion of near-silence for the over-wired. No pinging texts, no filling inboxes, no online games. Just the blessed peace and quiet associated with forcibly-disconnected flyers reading, napping or, horrors, chatting with each other. I lament the fact that society feels the need to fill every nook and cranny with high-bandwidth connectivity. Sometimes, it would be nice to simply pull the plug for a bit.

But, hypocrite that I apparently am, I was willing to set aside my anti-wireless-at-altitude stance for a chance to email silly pictures of myself to everyone I knew. Because as a one-time thing, it was a heck of a lot of fun. And as I happily skipped from one device to another to slurp up my half-hour snippets of free wireless, I couldn't help but think that, used with care, this could be a neat addition to the human landscape.

Who was I kidding? Between Alec Baldwin playing Words With Friends and the kid across the aisle using his iPad to record obscene-sounding bodily functions, I think we're all doomed.

Your turn: Wi-fi in flight. Good, bad, or indifferent?


21 Wits said...

I’m usually too excited to notice. But, that one person has grabbed my unwilling attention. Like someone in the theatre with their glowing but silenced phone! Grr! Then I think, he/she really has this tech thing down, but are they that bored with life, or too snobbish to be a passenger? Then after the flight that same person moves like they're rushing from a fire and doesn’t really care who gets hit in the head (or pushed) grabbing their large carry on bag from overhead! My thoughts, years ago, we had more happy, communicating passengers and flight attendants.

Thumper said...

I'm all for free in-flight wi-fi. I'm a terrible flyer and reading a book doesn't work well because I can't concentrate, but bouncing around online does. And trust me, everyone around me is better off if I'm distracted from the idea that I am stuck hurtling through the air in a giant lipstick tube...

Little Nell said...

That’s something I’ve yet to experience. Up to now I’m happy to download magazines and newspapers to my iPad; being able to play Words With Friends in flight does have a certain appeal though.