Wi-Fi. We hear this word a lot these days. We all know what it means. It means you can access the internet via a wireless connection away from your home or office, or move around in your home with a laptop without being connected to a network by a wire. Like the cell phone, Wi-Fi, allows for flexibility and mobility. Like the cell phone, Wi-Fi gets us away from the work or home office and out and about, or at least away from the desk. You can sit on your back porch in the sun while you read your email, check the news or weather, or carry out business or homework.
But how did it get its name? We can pretty much figure out the “wireless” part, but what about the “fi”? Well, here’s the official definition: “a local area network that uses high frequency radio signals to transmit and receive data over distances of a few hundred feet; uses Ethernet protocol.” The “fi” actually does not stand for anything, even though some say it means “fidelity”, the fact is, it was a made up name. There are some conflicting explanations, and here are a couple. I won’t get into the technical aspects of Wi-Fi, you can get that HERE .
Places that offer Wi-Fi service are called “Hot Spots”. Places like coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, (especially café style houses), book stores, libraries, universities, hospitals, and the airport all offer Wi-Fi services. I think it is a good marketing tool for a business to offer free Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi at a coffee shop draws a certain demographic that it likely did not receive before the existence of the technology. These places were perhaps pretty lifeless between breakfast and lunch dayparts, and lunch and dinner dayparts before Wi-Fi.
I think people most likely to use Wi-Fi are those who do not have a traditional career where they are not chained to a desk all day; — folks that get out and about. Sales Reps, college students, Realtors, and individuals who self employed with a home office who just want to get out of the house rather than sit at home in front of a laptop at a desk. I have a pretty traditional job at the moment, so I do not have much use for Wi-Fi. I have only used it when I have traveled, and found it kind of a pain trying to find a place that does not charge a fee, and then trying to get the password to get into the network, if there is one.
When I traveled to the Florida Keys last year, Wi-Fi was easily found at the hotels to and from, but while there, I wanted to find Wi-Fi to check emails and my Facebook page, since the place where I was staying only had dial up, and my family who was renting the place was usually using it. So I pulled into a shopping center with a grocery store; I think it was a Winn Dixie. Anyway, I was sitting in the parking lot and found the network, however, it required a password, so I went inside the store and spent about 20 minutes trying to get the password. All the employees were Spanish and spoke little English. I asked several, but nobody seemed to comprehend what I was talking about, so I gave up. There was also a nearby McDonalds, but it asked for a fee, and who the heck except wealthy people are going to pay a fee for Wi-Fi? Maybe someday I will go to a nice little coffee house or book store and work on some homework or a blog. I’ve often thought of doing that, as I think it is a good way to meet people, if you do not keep your nose in your computer the whole time. My problem with this would be that I become easily distracted. I am wanting to look around and watch people and if there is a lot of noise, I would not be able to concentrate if I were working on a deadline.
At home I have a wireless router, and honestly, I do not know what I did without it. When I would have to sit for hours at a desk on my old PC, it just hurt my neck and I got all stiff sitting in one place for too long. So now I can sit on the sofa, go to the kitchen table where I have more room to spread everything out, take it in the bedroom (although, I can never get in a comfortable enough position and still be able to work on my bed, –it’s actually too comfy in there), or I can sit on the back deck, weather permitting.
So what does Wi-Fi do for our communication culture? Well, I think mobile phones have a tendency to draw us into the device and they keep us from paying attention to what is going on around us. With Wi-Fi, I think it actually helps us to get out and meet new people. There have been studies that indicate that as the use of the internet has risen, sociability has decreased. Other studies have actually shown an increase, although, a shift in social behaviors. The new behavior is merely a seeking social communication through a different kind of network, –a virtual network. However, we are still communicating and still meeting people. But one can not meet anyone at all sitting at home or in an office, so being out and about is by far the better choice. Even though you might be working or doing schoolwork, and quite possibly get distracted and take more time to complete your tasks, at least you are not stuck inside an office, a desk at the house, or a computer lab at the university. You might not be as productive, but it is definitely an opportunity to meet people and network. Networking can often be as valuable in generating success as the “business” work you may be doing. Oh, and mind your Wi-Fi etiquette, please.