When Using the Web is the Reflex

Does anyone still look up number, business names in a big thick yellow pages phone book? Is that still the first reflex when a net connected computer is in reach? Two recent observations indicate that for many folks, not just techies, but Jane and Joe Citizen, the web is becoming the reflex.

We have a new site up for a regional theatre festival our colleges are hosting — it is a hugely complex multi-day event, with maybe 1000 attendees. I got 3 concerne email messages lasy night (rightfully so) as the address I had for the main conference hotel site was listed as 523 West Peoria Ave when it is actually 2523 (I hacked off the leading “2”!). Note what these emailers said a similar statement to this one (my emphasis added):

On the hotel information page for the program, the hotel’s address is incorrectly listed as 532 W. Peoria Ave.

The correct address is 2532 W. Peoria Ave.

For those of us visiting Pheonix (and using Mapquest to navigate) this can be a quite problematic! ;-)

This is not a unix convention or a perl users group, but actors, directors, makeup artists, etc. It is by no means a scientifically researched result, but it appears that finding locations on Mapquest for many is a standard reflex.

The other was a few weeks ago when I was trapped for 8 hours in a driving class to pay my dues for a photo radar ticket. At least 4 times during the instructor’s monologue, he referred to issues, laws, statistics, information and said, “You can just go to Google to find more”, or “that is on the National Safety Council’s web site”. There wa snot one instance where any of the 49 other people stuck in those uncomfortable chairs flinched, reacted, asked “What is Google”, looked left out when he suggested they “find it on the web”. They all knew. The web was nothing special, no more than their TV, phone, or electric light bulbs.

Maybe I am over extending, and I am not suggesting this is everywhere, but the web is way past critical mass. We are not having to say “I mean World Wide Web”, explain how to use a mouse or multiple windows, or help people find a search engine. It is in a reflex.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.