Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Don't See You Anywhere

We all understand that Google is important. Ever since it came out of nowhere to trounce all of its rivals in the search engine wars (Does anyone even remember Alta Vista and Lycos any more?), Google has gone on to become one of the most important companies to our digital lives since Microsoft. So when Google manages to mislay your town, it has consequences. Local businesses immediately feel the hit, as new customers, accustomed to relying on Google to find enterprises that they don't already know how to get to, wind up going elsewhere.

It's the dark side of technology. Once a certain level of dependency is reached, people basically forget how to live without it. Cellular phones are a prime example. A few years ago, a serious windstorm took out large swaths of both the local power grid and cellular network for a few days. Within hours, there was a small crowd of people clustered around the base of the nearest cell tower, plaintively holding up their phones, as if appealing to a distant deity. (I was expecting them to haul out a goat, chicken or unattended third-grader for a sacrifice to the Cellular Gods any minute.) When I asked one woman if she'd ever been in a situation where she didn't have phone service, she said yes, but this was different. She'd crammed so many services that hadn't even existed a decade previously into her phone that once the network went down, she (and the rest of the assembled supplicants) had effectively become digital cripples.

It's almost to the point where, as some acquaintances remarked earlier today, that if your online presences ceases to exists, you may as well fad away along with it...

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