My Internet connection has been down for the past five days. What’s really struck me is how very dependent I’ve become on Internet-based resources for my daily life.

I won’t get into my frustrations with Verizon other than to say that while many employees there have been working quite hard to get my line back up again, too often that work has involved convincing Verizon higher-ups that the customer (that’ll be me) actually wanted his service restored.

The pattern was that as soon as one supervisor was convinced to dispatch someone, there’d be a shift change. The convincing, first by me of a new customer agent, then of the new supervisor by the agent, would have to be done all over again.

As I submit this, the line is still down. It’s been almost a week since the line became unusable. Note that I have a business service. I have no idea how bad the response would have been for a consumer line.

I haven’t been totally without the Internet. I’ve been using dial-up since the problem started, but it’s a weak substitute for the always-on T-1. And the dial-up supports neither mail to my address nor my Web site. It turns out that most of my day-to-day activities, at work and home, involve accessing the ’Net in some way.

I feel like I’m in the news Dark Ages, having gone from actively seeking news from many sources to being at the mercy of the commercial TV channels. I amaze myself at the random topics I now habitually google based on some mention in the news.It seems I’m becoming a personification of the adage of knowing more and more about less and less.

I also use the ’Net extensively in my Harvard day job. I have to keep current on security topics and threats and monitor university activities. I also need good connectivity for my consulting and research.

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been caught not practising what I preach: I’ve neglected my back-up Web site for the past six months, so it’s far from being up-to-date. I’ll be happy when (if) Verizon gets my connectivity back and, at least for a little while, may recognize my current state of dependency.

Disclaimer:Harvard has no opinion that I know of about my T-1 outage, so the above represents my own thoughts.

QuickLink: 056774

–Bradner is a consultant with Harvard University’s University Information Systems. He can be reached

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