My Changing Needs for Connectivity

Perhaps its because I am getting older, I'm not sure, but my needs for and use of connectivity have notably changed. Not that I've changed my mind on wanting network coverage wherever I go, no, it's what I want it for that has changed over time. I can still remember the early days of wireless when I had a mobile phone and took it everywhere so I could be reached anytime. Once Internet access went mobile, that was extended by the desire to be reachable by email and other services at any time as well.

Fast forward to 2012 and I see a remarkable difference. Today, I no longer have the desire to be reachable anywhere and anytime. For phone calls and SMS messages I have filters. If I want to be undisturbed, I activate the filter and restrict the audible indication of phone calls and SMS messages to a few persons for which I really want to be reachable at any time. Other incoming stuff can be dealt with later. Same thing with emails.

Unlike other people I don't have a bad conscience when somebody asks me why I wasn't reachable to say that I was busy. There were times when the email client on the phone ran 24/7. Perhaps spam and emails not requiring and instant answer have worn me out a bit over time. Today, I stop the email client on the phone regularly because I don't want those beeps every so often to interrupt what I'm doing or thinking about.

[There, it beeped for an incoming email just while I was typing this sentence and I'm suppressing the urge to read it. I should have turned on the filter before starting this post…].

It wound't help to carry two devices, one for business and one for private communication. In effect, it would just double my work. On both I would again need the filters because even when I am in the office I don't want to be reachable all the time. Ringing or beeping devices in meetings, no thank you. A filter for silent indication of incoming stuff, well, I do go that far and if it's a general meeting in which I do not have a stake in all topics discussed I even text under the table every once in a while.

On the other hand I like having access to information at a moment's notice. Being able to search for some piece of information instantly to help me with what I'm doing at the moment, browse through Wikipedia, read the news on my favorite web sites, follow the blogs on my RSS streams whenever I wish no matter where I am, that's were my desire for always-on connectivity comes from these days.

Sure it's also great that I can contact other people whenever I want, but I try not to be disappointed if I don't reach them right away. After all, don't they have a smartphone? Yes, double standards, but I'm working on it 🙂 So I've stopped asking people why they were not reachable or more or less unconsciously try to make them feel guilty by telling them that I failed to reach them before. Connectivity everywhere is misunderstood by many as reachability everywhere.

[An incoming phone call has interrupted me and I took the opportunity to read the email that came in a couple of minutes ago as well. The urge is strong].

I have also found a renewed love for fixed line numbers. Yes, those numbers that connect to phones that are tied to the wall with a cable or are cordless at most with coverage ending a few meters after the doorstep. While it is convenient for many things to reach people when they are not at home, I sometimes want to explicitly reach people only when they are at home and have time to talk. Yes, I know I could text them in such a case to let them know I want to talk with them when it's convenient, but it's not the same thing.

You've detected some inconsistencies in this post? Yes, it's a complicated topic…

In other words my network coverage needs have changed from being for "reach-in" to being for "reach-out".