Editor's Note: BroadbandBreakfast.com periodically runs Expert Opinion commentary on a range of topics, including "What Broadband Means to Me." This column begins an effort to underscore the reasons why high-speed internet access is so central to modern daily life.
By Jennifer Clark
Join the cause to bring home the internet to mom and the kids on the farm. BIHT'M (Bring Internet Home to Mom) leads the fight to reconnect a mother with her property, relations and the world around her. The time for seclusion is over. Let the inundation of over-stimulation in the information age commence!
Why mom needs the internet:
I need to check my bank account information at home. I do not want to do this over a less secure network in public locations and I want to do it at my convenience and on the fly if needed.
The Petersburg Observer is not cutting it to explain about earthquakes and hurricanes. I do not watch nor trust the network news spin.
With family and old and new friends, I just do not have time to sit on the phone and neither do they. The hidden benefit to a no-e-mail lifestyle is that my children have learned the art of letter writing and the thrill of postage paid letters. However, I am way behind on my social net works.
Virtually all parent-teacher communication happens in the virtual world. All homework assignments are online or posted through e-mail. School notices and PTA functions come this way too. What's more the kids need to use the internet to do homework assignments. I too have been known to google-up the scientific method or a list of historical dates to maintain the wonder and awe in the eyes of my children over their mother's knowledge and wisdom. Please help, or I might fail 5th grade this time 'round.
To get into a community one has to participate. Most of the planning for this participation happens online. Now if you are not "on" you are out. Church callings, social groups, charity participation all function online. I am loosing my edge in affecting change in my community.
Frankly an hour on the internet is the cheapest babysitting I can get. After hearing the detailed accounts of the school day and the repeated worry over whether Johnny or Suzi "likes me anymore," I have no guilt plopping my kids down in front of Star Fall or PBS Kids online. I justify that this is far better then an hour in front of the tv or DSi. Do it for the kids!
New (to me) Innovations and Caring for Our Natural Resources
Moving to a farm has disarmed me of any notion that I am self-sufficient. I would like to become more so though. Step one: learn about tractors... I just don't have a place to do that except to start my research about tractors or chickens or well water... online. From there I have a better idea of where I need to go for more in-depth information.
...and dirty dishes for that matter. Perhaps more incidental but far more pleasing is the ability to look up a good recipe online. It's just so dang handy. So too is the convenience of looking for service providers online. In fact, when I was looking in the local yellow pages for a plumber to hook up the new dishwasher the numbers I dialed were disconnected. The information was outdated even though it was a newly published phone book. In researching the same plumbers by name online I was able to find the accurate information and link to Angie's list to see which had the best reputation. The dishwasher should be hooked up between 12 and 2 next Tuesday.
Short of installing solar panels on the house roof and a windmill in the pasture we could do our part to conserve energy and save a lot of fossil fuel by getting me an internet connection. The gas I would save in chasing such a signal down at the local libraries or internet cafe could at least fuel the lawn tractor.
On Mondays I have to travel 15 miles one way to the library in the neighboring town because the one in our town is closed. On Fridays I need to travel 25 miles one way to the pastry shop down town because both libraries are closed. Tuesday through Thursday I can travel just 5 miles into town and as long as my lap top in fully charged I can get two hours of internet time. I am limited in my time only because our local library, though generously built by the Carnegie family nearly 100 years ago, does not house the three prong outlets I need to keep my lap top charged. I would look up what those three-prong out lets are really called but I don't have an internet connection.
All this is true, but also I could save so much of my own energy by doing more of my family shopping online too.
The flip side is that I do read more books now. In fact, I picked up a great little book about the Amish. I was disconcerted to learn, however, that even they have the internet.
Jennifer Clark is a full-time mother of two children, and has previously written for BroadbandBreakfast.com. She brings a keen understanding of community infrastructure together with a background in congressional politics and community issues. She has a Master’s in Education.