I wonder whether being able to download things at the touch of a button is giving us a false sense of time and practicalities. Is the last-minute purchase of insurance policies, bill payments and money transfers, hotel and flight bookings, gift vouchers, music, films, books and so many other day-to-day commodities tricking us into believing that everything is possible?
“No, I’m sorry. I sold the last few as soon as it started snowing on Friday” said the shop assistant to the woman who was trying to buy a plastic sledge for her toddler. The woman, clearly frustrated and wondering what to try next, was on uncharted ground – every option was more than one click away.
A few hours later I overheard one end of a phone conversation regarding the purchase of grit to clear a driveway. It appeared that the supplier wasn’t able to deliver over the weekend and the customer was annoyed to hear this. It was late on Friday afternoon, and the long-promised snow was finally falling heavily. Grit was urgently needed.
Despite the incredible bandwidth available to us today, there’s no getting away from the fact that some things are not available to download – at any price. We all need to plan ahead, taking due consideration of delivery times.
It’s not difficult to understand, and it’s not a new problem. But perhaps we’re so busy living our “on demand” lives that we forget what we’ve always known – atoms are so much harder to deliver than bits. Maybe it takes sudden events such as weather extremes to remind us of this.