Important Notice

Special captions are available for the humor-impaired.


Thursday, June 13, 2002

Ou Est le Cyber Café?

In my opinion the single greatest thing about the internet is instant communication: e-mail and its offspring such as web logs. If you have traveled anywhere outside of this country you will find that cyber cafes can be found all over the place. I live in Seattle which prides itself on being a leader in the tech industry and you’d be hard-pressed to find public access to the internet. Of course, everyone in this city, and this country, has internet access at home and thus feels no need to be further wired.

But why must we all sit in our little dark rooms, hidden away in our apartments in what I call the Anne Franck Technology Syndrome ( me steal material--that's un-possible). It's time to walk out into the world. I think most of you don’t know what you are missing.

For one thing, most people wouldn’t even need to own a computer if they had cheap, convenient access to the internet. E-mail represents about 99% of why most people have a home computer. If they had the ability to log-on away from home they could skip buying all of the hardware themselves.

There is a big cyber café franchise across Europe called Easy Everything. The one I used in Amsterdam had over 600 work stations each with high-speed DSL connections. It cost very little to get internet access. They make additional money via their concession stands. The place was open 24-7 and was always teaming with people, mostly kids 17-24 or so.

I also frequented an Easy Everything in Paris on the Rue Sébastopol. This place was even more of a hang out than the one in Amsterdam. They actually had bouncers and a velvet rope to manage the crowds coming in, like a night club. I especially liked these places because they served great coffee at all hours. I am a chronic insomniac so this was where I would go from 5 a.m. until 8 a.m. when the rest of the world was asleep.

In Mexico just about every city I visited had a cyber café. They were generally not as sophisticated as the Easy Everything sites but business was always good. I remember in one small town I sat at a terminal in the middle of a computer class of high school kids.

These cyber cafes have the same appeal as do regular cafes. They are a place where you can interact in the community. A sidewalk café is about the most glorious institution ever conceived by man, yet here in America deem them unnecessary. I should correct that and say we here in the USA. Latin American countries have embraced cafes whole-heartedly. If you have never lived in Europe or south of the border this phenomena is difficult to articulate. On the one hand it is merely squatting at a table drinking a coffee or a beer but on another level it is a very pleasant perch from which to watch the world go by.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you can't say something nice, say it here.