Sunday, November 19, 2006

An Internet vacation?

As I continue to plan for a two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year, the question of Internet access comes up. Some hotels have great Internet access, for some it is lousy. For some it is free, others charge outrageous fees. But the real question is what do I want to do.

Lugging my notebook computer around is a pain since I like to travel light. Alternatives for Internet access are less than reasonably palatable.

For me, the core issue is that I typically need about two to four hours a day to keep up on news, email, and other online interests, and that is simply way too big a block of time to "waste" on a fun and relaxing trip to New York City.

I could probably get by without a lot of Web browsing, and without most of my email, but there are always a few email messages that need to be responded to in a timely manner. I also pay a lot of bills online, so I would have to be very careful about pre-paying so that inaction during that two-week window would not have dire consequences. I suspect I'll be okay on the bill front since this is only two weeks.

I actually look forward to the prospect of getting daily news via the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, maybe even the local Daily News or New York Post or New York Sun, and maybe even a modest amount of TV. These are not my first choices compared to the rich fare of the Web, but would be a welcome rest after the prolonged frenzy of the Web.

I can in fact use an Internet cafe or other public Internet access to access a lot of my online accounts and even email if I expect anything urgent, but the primary intention is to "go cold turkey", an Internet vacation.

A lot of my bills and financial transactions are now on auto-pilot and my intention is to do more that way over time.

The big question is whether I will do any blogging during this Internet vacation. In theory, the answer should be no, but in practice I may not be able to resist. Even a modest post such as this one takes a lot of though and consumes fifteen minutes or more of my time. The upside is that I can simply walk up to any public Web station and log in to Blogger to make a post.

I have also considered photo blogging, but I don't have a camera (other than the one in my company smartphone) and simply organizing the photos would be time-consuming. Besides, I'd rather simply enjoy the city rather than get distracted by fiddling with a camera. Still, it is a possibility.

For now, my goal for that December 20 through January 3 period will be to do no blogging and to make it a complete Internet vacation. So, for now, my decision is that I will not take my notebook computer with me.

I will probably take my company smartphone(either a Verizon Motorola Q or a T-Mobile Dash), which will in fact allow me to do email and limited web browsing, but I'll just say, for now, that it doesn't count as a "real computer"!

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In praise of mainstream media

There are a lot of criticisms I can hurl at mainstream media, but I no longer have any faith that a "grassroots" Blogosphere will be able to put even a significant dent in the ability of "Old Media" to bring the majority of news stories to the majority of consumers. As vast as the efforts of the Blogosphere are, the mostly subjective nature of most blog posts makes even biased mainstream media look fairly objective. As much as I literally hate "Old Media", I don't think we are ready to live and thrive without them, at least over the next few years.

It is a real shame that editorial staffs at mainstream media outlets are being cut, because they are the source of so many interesting and informative stories that we all need to stay up on current events.

I get a daily email from the NY Times, at no charge, that gives me free access to quite a number of stories. I've never been willing to pay for it since news is available on so many web sites for free, but now I would be willing to pay a reasonable price if I were to get some assurance that editorial coverage and objectivity would be racheted up.

I read a lot of stories that originate with Reuters and Associated Press, typically on Yahoo.

I occasionally check Google News, which is aggregating headlines from mostly mainstream media outlets, albeit in Web format.

Bloomberg, Business Week, and the Washington Post occasionally have stories of interest to me.

Just yesterday I found a fascinating article on the Vanity Fair web site, which was referenced in an article in the NY Times.

Even the Wall Street Journal occasionally has articles that I find of interest.

I no longer subscribe to any magazines or newspapers and I don't watch any television, but my intellectual life would be a lot less rich without the editorial efforts at mainstream media.

The Blogosphere is a great venue for opinion and even the occasional news "scoop", but for breadth and depth of worldwide news...

Long live mainstream media!

Now, all they need to do is find novel ways of surviving, evolving, and thriving.

I want and need both mainstream media and the Blogosphere. They need to find ways to complement and assist each other.

Long live mainstream media!

-- Jack Krupansky