Australia :: June 1994 - March 1995

Subject: Mile Zero.
Date: June 20, 1994 23:50

18:09 PST :: 20 JUN 94-Vancouver International Airport; Vancouver, Canada

Just this afternoon I decided to keep an electronic journal, a place to key in observations, revelations and the like and feed them into a distribution list.

Our communicative mannerisms live on the fault-line of change. Much must be done to facilitate the coming revolution.

20:42 PST :: 20 JUN 94-Canadian Pacific FLT 507 bound for LAX

For example, there are no rest stops on the InfoBahn. While waiting at the gate in Vancouver this, fact became apparent. The only power outlet in the gate required cramming myself into a phone booth to utilize it. While the booth sported both a seat and small desk along with the pay phone, even my small-footprint Toshiba T3400 fitted the space awkwardly. I was just happy that the two young boys playing at the water fountain didn't splash the socket to which my computer was attached.

Indeed, there are few gas stations or road maps and nary a tow truck. Essentially, the term information superhighway is an unfortunate misnomer: first, what is about to happen is a global network linking all points great and small, not a bypass infested thoroughfare. Super highways kill communities rather than support them.

It seems that the people who favour the analogy are either politicians who fail to understand the technology or its social opportunities/consequences, or those who would all too gladly erect toll booths. These latter understand the opportunities all too well and have early adorned themselves in sheepskin.. If the metaphor persists, we are all too likely to adapt the technology to it rather than to our needs...

22:30 PST :: 20 JUN 94-LAX gate 121 lounge

...for we will adapt ourselves to whatever we've wrought.

The international gates here are no better in their facilitation of the electronically connected. I am in the lounge partly because it serves beer, but also because it's the only location in this particular International Departures wing where a table, chair and electrical socket reside in proximity without a thoroughfare bisecting any leg of the triangle.

I'm certainly not here for the decidedly surly attitude of the bartender, nor for the manner in which the tabletop sticks to the Toshiba.

Again the InfoBahn passes through without onramps. The payphones provide voice access to Aunt Millie in Peoria, but without a twisted-pair port only an acoustic coupler will get me to my eMail. There's no way I'm going to add another two pounds to my electronically encumbered luggage. Another community cut off from civilization. I can have my Northern Exposure, which plays too loudly on the ubiquitous bar boob box, but I can't review the episode in a chat session with Roger Ebert.

But for a simple socket; frustratingly close, but even the omnipresent fruit of Franklin gives up its juice all too unwillingly.

In a moment I will find out what a flogging feels like from an authority. The adolescent minded American caned in Singapore for his free hand with a spray can will speak his mind to the networks and we will hear the excerpts they feel we want to hear. Truth as we care to know it will be served.

The Eagle talked and talked and all he heard was himself. Onawataukee said to him, "Only when you hear the wolf's hunger will you say anything worth hearing, and then you will find the wind." The Eagle heard the hunger and then knew the wind. From then he said all he needed to say with his flight.

That passage comes from the close of Northern Exposure. Sometimes even the idiot box can relay wisdom, but the broadcast Eagle will never fly. It speaks too much and listens not at all.

23:41 PST :: 20 JUN 94-LAX Gate 121

HAH! I love being proven wrong when I'm at my most cynical! I've found an AT&T "Public phone 2000" that has, get this, a Data Port, Credit Card slot, a CRT for help and data display and a full-size QWERTY keyboard. HAH! A rest stop with payphone on the InfoBahn!

Guess I'll transmit this little message and then recharge the batteries in the wall-socket.

If I wore glasses, I'd push them up the bridge of my nose and say, "Cool!"

Patrick. -- Responses Sought --