As you are reading this, there is a very good chance I’m also online, scouring the Net. Just like yours, my signal is dashing from machine to machine, hopping networks, and jumping firewalls. Our digital selves seem to have more freedoms than our physical selves. In the virtual world, we are free from many of the constraints of travel, time, and custom. It is my hope that by experiencing these freedoms even in their distorted digital manifestations we will yearn for them in our civil societies. The Internet will be a major catalyst to a more progressive and enriching world, not just as a tool to organize but as a testing ground for ideas and innovations that make our lives better. It all sounds so perfectly amazing, right?
The truth is the Net is only a fraction of how cool it can and will become. We will continually have to wade through crap in order to get there. First we had to put up with AOL disks. Then came email spam. Remember pop-up ads? Or spyware. Did you ever get a virus? We’ve overcome a lot already. But I’ve found the next myth, the next hoax, the next lie that we need to dispel: wireless.
First off, I don’t like the term. Wireless. It takes eight letters to say something doesn’t exist? And it’s always going to be second banana to “wired” because it has bought into the paradigm in which “wired” products are the norm. I think that “wireless” should be the standard and gadgets with wires should be called “teathered” or “immobile.” That’s what so-called “wired” products really are. We need to start using terminology that is based in the technologies of 2006 and not 1950.
To me, you call a human a human, not a tailless monkey.
And it’s not just our vocabulary that needs an update. Modern product designers should be ashamed. The amount of cords and wires it takes to run an average media setup is ridiculous. There is a whole intestine-looking tangle of cords behind my entertainment center. I’ve often said that I think the only people still making money hand over fist in the product hardware business are the cord and wire makers.
So needless to say, the concept of “wireless” sounds fantastic to me. I don’t even need to see the flop. I’m all in.
In fact, I’ve already purchased quite a few “wireless” products. Pretty quickly, however, I found out that wireless often means something very different than an average person’s definition of the term. For example, it would seem obvious that “wireless” means “without wires” as in this diagram:
But, sadly, that is often not the case. Usually “wireless” quite simply means “differently wired.” You need a dongle for that, a power cord for this, and an ethernet cable just for good measure… or spite. All to be “wireless.”
Here is my xbox wireless adapter, for example.
In this case, “wireless” means “two wires.” I am actually surprised they went so far as to put the word “wireless” in the product name. This thing can only go a matter of five feet from an outlet. Immobile, not wireless in my book.
And what do I tell my friends when I trip on one of these cords? “Sorry guys no basketball for me. I biffed my knee when I tripped on my wireless adapter’s cord. What’s that? Yeah, I’m ok. I’ll just chill around the house and listen to audio cassettes on my iPod. I never weened myself off tape hiss, man.”