This blog started out as an experiment in limited internet access, and I’d like to quickly revisit that theme by comparing it to my constant access now.
I spent a while working to customize my internet experience through del.icio.us bookmarking, assembling an RSS feed, starting my own personal blog, starting a Flickr account, and keeping up more regularly with twitter, Facebook, technorati, etc. Out of that social media category, I’d say the RSS and blog had the most impact in making the web more comfortable and rewarding to visit.
I feel significantly more connected with everything since I took the time to personalize my browser. I consolidated my switch-hitting between Safari and Firefox (Firefox won). Then I sat down and made my bookmarks toolbar sensible and usable, and cleared out old bookmarks I hadn’t used in ages. I’ve started with some add-ons, most notably Google Notebook. I no longer feel like I’m just visiting the internet; I’m home.
Based on my own experiences, I don’t see how people popping into the library to use the internet for an hour, or even people who have a laptop but no home internet access, can have the same rich experience that I’m having with my full set up. So much time goes into organizing and arranging things to be just right, not only for my enjoyment but to help me keep up with everything. It gives me an advantage in terms of research (school, career, and beyond) and in terms of social media presence over people without my modest but crucial resources.
How are web developers working to enable custom internet experiences for people who don’t have their own personal computers? How are those free or cheap wi-fi projects I keep hearing about going (I think there’s one in Minneapolis…)? When are some $200 laptops going to hit the American market, and would they be usable enough to bridge the digital divide within our country? And what can one person do to share her technological advantages?