Today I went to my actual mailbox. You know, the one outside on the pole with the flag on the side. In the mail was one of those coupon mailers. I like to thumb through those for the stray restaurant coupon that we might use. Normally they are just chock full of home siding, lawn care, and exterminator ads. Today, there was something different and pretty amazing. A CD was in my mailer. This wasn’t just any old run of the mill CD, though. This was a shiny new AOL Dial-Up Internet offer CD. Talk about a blast from the past!!
I have many, many questions and thoughts about this. Where do we begin? Let’s start with the pure facts. I suppose there are still quite a few people in areas where broadband isn’t an option for them. Dial-up may still be the only way to get wired. I am truly sorry for the six of you. Truly, truly sorry. I think the last time I used a modem was about 12 years ago. I still remember the traumatic experience of going on the road without my (blazing fast, at the time, and state-of-the-art) home.com cable modem. I tried using some free NetZero account, and it was awful then.
What’s changed Web-wise for the dial-up user? The world is a much different place today. The entire Web is based on the assumption that you are using broadband. Web 2.0 does not consider a 56k modem. (I can’t believe I just wrote 56k modem. The mere mention of that word brings back horrible memories.) Remember US Robotics? I certainly remember USR. My first two jobs in the technical world were in phone support. I worked the help desk for the original version of “The Microsoft Network” and I supported the escalation desk for GTE Internetworking. Both of those services have way gone the way of the Dodo, and for good reason. Ouch, I just had a Windows 95 flashback, followed by a pain in my chest. Memories of people screaming at me because their 14.4 modem was having trouble getting them to a chat room are not pleasant. This was so long ago, I didn’t even have to live in India to answer the support calls.
What about the marketing side of this insert? I know the ads in these mailers are targeted. I am sitting on a Verizon Fios 20Mbps down, 5 Mbps up speed fiber connection. $11.95 per month for dial-up service? Do you think people in my area would shell out 12 bucks a month to be flogged over the head with a wet noodle? They could have broadband access for $19.95 as part of any phone or cable bundle. There has to be a reason this is in my coupon package. Maybe AOL is trying to tell me something important about my life. Maybe I am the only one who received this CD. Could this be my enlightenment moment?
During all the free time I would have while waiting (and waiting) for things to up/download, I could get a lot of stuff done. For instance:
- I would finally have the time to label all those floppy disks and cassette tapes I have lying around
- Seek and destroy individual gray hairs that are popping up on my head
- Run a marathon while waiting for a YouTube video
- Clean out the attic while uploading my resume to Monster.com
- Learn Mandarin Chinese while waiting for email messages
- Visit the hospital after I PUT MY HEAD THROUGH THE WALL
So much for enlightenment, and productivity. Some people are just gluttons for punishment. Some of us are just afraid of change. Why drive the speed limit on the information super highway? You can putter along in the right lane at 28 miles per hour tying up traffic and endangering everyone else. Of course, AOL may just be trying to revive the ancient lost art of internet CD mosaics. Chin-up fellow broadbanders, things have been much worse. Viva-la Fiber!!!