Friday, July 11

This Way To The Information Supertrail

Just spent some time in the Michigan UP deep woods. Cabins, lakes, fishing, beer. No cellphone access, internet connections, or even a hardlined phone.

After a week of being cut off from instant information, you realize that you could survive without the internet. I missed George Carlin dying and the break of Madonna's divorce rumors. And I didn't know exactly what the weather would be like when I pushed the boat off at 6 AM. But jumping off the Info Superhighway was a nice break.

On the other hand my cousin, who is a freshman in college, found a 3' X 3' area in her cabin where she could get a weak cellphone signal. She spent a lot of time standing in one spot mashing away at her Sidekick keyboard.

Which made me contemplate The Kids today. Personally, I am old enough to remember life before email, WWW, and Windows 3.1. A week without it is a blast to my past. I suffered through AOL on a 28K modem, so tolerating slow webpage downloads on my 2G iPhone isn't complete torture. But The Kids will have no concept of life prior to always on / always fast / always realtime information.

Richard Louv is co-founder of the Children & Nature Network. He wrote a great book titled Last Child in the Woods. It analyzes the connection with children and nature, and the impact of society's alienation between the two. He warns about the decline of "unstructured outdoor play" and Nature Deficiency Disorder. It can be a bit treehugger at times, but overall it raises very valid points regarding how a disconnection from nature can have a broad impact on a child's creativity and social awareness. It can also induce pangs of parental guilt, but even a walk in the local nature reserve is a great first step.

So I think of The Kids and how they will be tracing their nature walks on Google Maps, posting their 24" Northern Pike catches to Twitter, blogging around the campfire. This digital multitasking behavior already runs rampant through most companies. Hotels have started offering conference rooms that don't have Wifi/cellphone/Blackberry coverage to keep offsite meetings ontrack. Why not the same for vacation spots? It was refreshing to tell everyone at work that there was no way to contact me for the next 10 days. Not my fault! Don't even try! You could probably charge more for those cabin rentals or all-inclusive resorts.

Meanwhile I posted my vacation photos to my Facebook page, staked out our next nature vacation on Google Earth, and found a section on that tracks prime fishing times throughout the day. Old habits are hard to break.

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