Do you remember your first mp3? I believe i got my first via MSN Messenger(currently known as Windows Live Messenger) somewhere back in the late 90’s. It was ripped it from an album called “Metallica” by Metallica (which by the way was their fifth). It took about 38 minutes to download the song and I sat by the giant computer waiting all the time and then I played it. Without a disc.
To go online back in those days meant unjacking the telephone line to the house, plugging in a little blue box the size of a VHS-cassette, listening to that awesome tune(which brings back loads of memories), and waiting for about 4 minutes just to get that green blinking light to go steady. So what about today? How do we go online today? What buttons do we need to push to get access to the things we want?
Well, there is still the process of connecting to the internet with your laptop sometimes, but with the technical revolution more and more moving towards wireless appliances that are “always-on”, like the tablets, the smartphones and other things constantly connected to the internet like smart-tvs, surveillance cameras, trains, cars etc, it seems that the seconds spent waiting for access to be verified are over. Clay Shirky, writer and teacher at NYU, addresses the problem of measuring online-time, since we don’t really have the experience of “going online” anymore.
This is off course a great advantage for software-, IP-, and hardware-based companies. This phenomenon, that millions of people are constantly connected to the internet, eliminates the factors time and space from the consumption process. We no longer need to be at a specific place (be it our home computer) during specific hours to consume, which has led to the boom in mobile technology and the development of apps connected to the internet. Spotify is one of them. Though originally designed to be used as a computer desktop appliance , its basic concept of using the cloud has now made it available for almost all android and iOS based platforms. The ease of having access to all your favourite tracks and playlists at all times makes it optimal for the mobile device, and it also deletes the function of the mp3-player, another pre-googlian product rarely seen these days.
But when using wireless technology we have to rely on two things; battery time and reception. The moment we step out of the green zone we are left on our own with no maps, no social connections and no music. This could, for the fair amount of people that has embraced life as part machine, be the only notion of ever being offline. We can see examples of the massive panic that this could cause in Die Hard 4 or in the tv show Revolution. Spotify has aknowledged this problem and lets you have offline access to your favourite tracks, but limits it to 3333. (?) Don’t ask anybody why…
Our non-stop, on demand access to music, social networks and other things has made us constantly craving for WiFi and Reception. We are starting to take is for granted that a café has WiFi, rather than seeing it as a service they provide. We will stop using services that don’t supply mobile device apps. Being online is a kind of freedom that everyone wants to harvest. It gives us the power to say: If it’s on the internet, I know about it… or at least I will if you give me a minute.