Thursday, 19 January 2012

the day the web went dark ...

Not really of course, but the SOPA black screen protest by Wikipedia and others has prompted an outpouring of angst plus the usual spate of articles about 'could we live without the web?'

One of the better articles was from the New Zealand Herald, which referenced the experience of Egypt during the Arab Spring, but even then failed to mention that one of the side effects of the Egyptian blackout was the loss of e-banking.

That's right, e-banking, or paying people electronically, or indeed finding the cash machines didn't work. Killed a lot of normal business stone dead.

We can manage without a lot of the internet  and certainly without social media such as facebook and twitter. Same goes for Skype, and at a pinch, email (you know it's amazing, you can still print out some text, put it in a wrapper and stick a special payment receipt on it and put it in a dedicated red collecting box and it gets to the other side of the world, and even Gundaroo,  in three or four days).

The killer is banking. It's all electronic. No more traveller's cheques, no more cheques, no more bank statements, just track it all online. No more banks even, get your cash from a machine in a wall.

I know from personal experience travelling that you can last without the internet for a few days without difficulty, and being out of email contact can be a relief, but the real killer has always been banking to check how you're doing, whether or not a particular credit card purchase has gone through, or indeed how much you've been stung for that multi currency ATM withdrawal in Dubai airport.

You even need access to e-banking to top up these special  multi currency visa cards you can get from Travelex.

In fact one of the reasons we started taking the Ookygoo with us was online banking. The other main one was checking flight details and hotel reservations, the only problem was not being able to print boarding passes and the like.

Nowadays most people are happy to scan your phone or tablet, afterall it's only the bar code they're really interested in.

So yes, its is possible to go back non-internet way of life as long as the legacy services are still there. The moment that you are expected to do anything at all for your self - online banking, flight confirmations, etc the wheels come off. And that's the key. One could happily live in a hut in the bush, type letters on an old typewriter. Couldn't buy anything except what was available locally and can be paid for with cash.

Allow yourself a debit card (remember, no more cheques) and you can order stuff by mail or by phone, and that's giving you all the functionality of the 1980's ...

No comments: