One of the many things I love about the UK is that no one seems to drink alone. Pubs remain at the center of the local village, with news, both good and bad, being shared amongst friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
I just read in eWeek Europe how BT Broadband and Heineken have teamed up to connect 100 of London's pubs to the Internet with free Wi-Fi. Apparently, the install began in March and is nearly complete. The companies plan to expand to 200 more pubs around the UK by 2012.
Here's my question, though. While pubs are truly the hub of social networking in the town/village/city, should they also be the hub of virtual social networking? Will the character of the pub become a "heads down" place as patrons share jokes with friends around the world rather than the bloke next to them at the bar? I'm going to see what my cousin thinks of this. She owns a pub in a village in the UK....
In the meantime, any thoughts? Are we heading down a slippery slope, or are we already in free fall?
Janine, in some ways this is already being enabled, although not specifically for engineers. Any number of traditional video game arcade boxes in bars are now networked with bars around the world and players compete not only against their real drinking buddies but their virtual drinking buddies in other states and countries.
I saw this first hand at a local bar (I was strictly on a fact-finding mission!!). And then on the Drive for Innovation I spent time with the guys at Incredible Technologies in Illinois, the makers of the famous Golden Tee arcade game, now networked.
(If you're interested, here's a dispatch a video: http://www.driveforinnovation.com/incredible-technologies-golden-tee-technology)
I think we all need more information-gathering visits to our local pubs to get a much better picture of what's going on...
Who's with me??
The limiting factor in most McDonald's is battery life. Most of them have no AC outlets because of the kids, but some of them are starting to add an outlet somewhere. There is a corner booth at the local one that tends to be very popular with the laptop crowd, and there are typically two or three laptops open there.
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