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Broadband Pros and Cons

The broadband revolution

What’s broadband to you? Is it simply that chunky email attachments no longer choke your modem, and the phone line isn’t tied up while you netsurf? Or is it your gateway to a new life?

Broadband’s essence is simply processing large files, fast. It’s a shift from a static, text-based Internet to a maelstrom of moving images and sound. We move closer to virtual worlds existing in real time. Most of all, speedy up/downloads spell interactivity like never before.

If you’re maxing out on broadband’s benefits, you’ll know all about YouTube, downloading music and TV and movies on-demand. You use your webcam to socialise on Facebook and VoIP technology for free phone calls that are crisp and clear. Broadband’s triad of image-richness, interactivity and virtual reality comes together in online gaming, from chess to fantasy games. A stint as your alter ego on Second Life releases you from mundane reality.

Broadband may have transformed your workplace. You can save cash, sanity and the planet by ditching that stressful, polluting commuting and hooking up from home. Live wherever you want. We’ve conquered earthly space.

For businesses, broadband has spawned cheap VPNs (virtual private networks) that keep communication rolling, while Extranets soup up your supply chain. You can run an empire from a portaloo if you don’t have to rent acres of expensive office space. Interactive e-learning, be it home-schooling, job training or a postgrad degree, is a click away. There are fantastic, flexible e-jobs advertised.

and you’ve applied. Now that location is irrelevant, so did thirty thousand others. You’d like to commiserate with your partner, but s/he’s at a conference in a luxury hotel in an exotic place. Your company video-conferences. Only the boss has travel perks. The furthest you go is for cholesterol tests and repetitive strain injury treatment at the clinic, where they warn about e-thrombosis’ and glaucoma and nag you to exercise.

You’ve tried but between mobile broadband and mobile phones, there’s no escape from the office. Parkinson’s Law rules. Work balloons to fill that time saved on commuting and there’s no excuse for being unavailable. Now you can even work from your sickbed. (You suddenly miss those buffoons you used to work with: the catharsis of spontaneous collective whingeing; people who covered for you when you were late or slacking off).

Your mum phones. Since it’s free, she sees no reason to make it quick. She tells you about an article in the Washington Post (26.02.07) about the new cyber-order and the dire potential of multi-tasking to ruin teenagers’ brains. It proves her philosophy that we’re not built for this much speed’. You half-listen while checking email. They say obsessive email-checking is a new syndrome, but you’re just keeping up to speed.

Does broadband give you the edge or push you over it? Will it bring villagers in rural Angola into global knowledge systems and markets, or will it create a new divide between haves and have-nots? I’ve got a minute I’ll just check Yahoo Answers

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