Scanorama: Coming unwired

And here’s a column from the July/August issue of Scanorama. Keep reading.

Coming unwired

I was recently on a long business trip, a three-week story assignment on the other side of the world, covering a sporting event.

While it sounded like a dream assignment, there was one problem. The family would have to stay at home, and in my heart.

But surely we could stay in touch with all the new ways of communication. And so it was. I packed my bag and flew to Canada, determined to put the promises of mobility to a test.

We exchanged first emails on the first leg of my trip, on a stopover in Frankfurt. Upon arriving in Canada, I set up my video office in the hotel room, fired up Skype and prepared to give the family a tour of my hotel room.

But the wireless internet in my room was shaky, and kept dropping the signal. The mobile phone I got in Canada didn’t allow overseas calls.

I made another attempt from the press center of the event only to get an sms from my wife, telling me that her laptop had broken down so she couldn’t chat or email me.

Then she sent me an MMS, a multimedia message to my phone. For some reason, my Nokia couldn’t receive it, and the operator sent me to a website to collect it.

Then my wife realized that she could read her email, and surf the web on her iPod. Light at the end of the tunnel.

There were a lot of hurdles keeping us from talking to each other but a week later all things clicked. The MSN messages flew, the emails were exchanged, and the Skype video took me back home. At one point, I even had a long-distance breakfast with the family when they put the laptop on the kitchen table.

Work?

Oh, sure. I did some of that, too.

How does that make you feel?