I’ve recently just come back from 5 weeks holidaying in South America. I left with the intention of going totally internet cold turkey for this period of time. I wasn’t going to actively seek out the hotels computers or an internet cafe to check my emails, update twitter or facebook, or even upload any holiday photos to Flickr. I wanted to spend my time enjoying where I was going & leaving the world behind for a bit.
That really didn’t last long. Unlike Australia, I discovered that everywhere I went was bathed in free wi-fi networks. Most of the hotels I stayed in had free wi-fi, if it wasn’t in the rooms, it was in the lobby & dining areas. Cafes, ice cream stores, bookshops and even many town squares had free wi-fi. This was common throughout big cities like Buenos Aires and Lima, and not quite as common, but still there in smaller towns like Cusco, Puno, Potosi and Sucre (in Peru and Bolivia). It was these smaller towns that really surprised me. They may not have had paved roads, but they had good internet connections.
Despite being nearly connected the whole time I was away, I purposefully avoided checking things too much. I took an iPod touch with me, which was the perfect traveling companion. When I felt like it I could check email and update twitter and that was about all I did. The news at home was irrelevant, I was in some magnificent countryside and I wanted to experience that, not a computer screen.
While I was away, the world kept ticking along, I was just oblivious to most of it and it really didn’t matter. I didn’t miss anything too urgent and I felt healthier by the end of it.
A few important things did happen while I was away. The Powerhouse Museum nominated my Then & Now mashup for a “Best of web” award at the Museums and the Web conference – thank you. I was also asked by the State Library of New South Wales to present at their reference@the metcalfe seminar for NSW public libraries in May.
I’m now firmly back into my regular routine of being connected with the world as much as possible. Is it better? It’s different and I now find I can switch off a little easier than I could a couple of months ago.