Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Virtual proximity and the craving for surveillance

NY Times article Using Technology to Add New Dimensions to the Nightly Call Home outlines how members of the professional class stay in touch with loved ones while away on business.

"Technology gives me the ability to have life be seamless," said Ms. Aspinall. She was away on a business trip, and the boys faxed the grades to her hotel and then called her to discuss them. "It was an important milestone, sharing your end-of-the-year report card. It's just a feeling of belonging, a feeling of being together, whether you are or not."

"Mr. Kabbash, who travels about half of each month, tried videotaping himself reading bedtime stories, but found the routine cold and sterile. Now he faxes and sends his stories by e-mail to his 10-year-old and 6-year-old, along with digital photos of the stories' exotic settings. Then he reads the tales over the phone at night. "It's bridged the gap extraordinarily well."

"Donny Wancho, manager of the business center at the Four Seasons Pierre Hotel in New York, installed three types of instant messaging on computers at the center last spring at the request of travelers wanting to connect with home. "They ask if they've had their breakfast, if their work is done from the night before, and ask them to do chores," said Mr. Wancho, adding that during the holidays, children fax wish lists to parents."

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